By Peter Wozniak
The government's plans for high speed rail will roll out to both the north-east and north-west of England in a "transformation of the way Britain works", Philip Hammond has announced.
The transport secretary unveiled plans today to roll out the infrastructure for super-fast trains north of Birmingham to both Manchester and Leeds.
Originally, only the London to Birmingham line had been confirmed.
Mr Hammond said: "We have committed to a high speed rail network that will change the social and economic geography of Britain; connecting our great population centres and our international gateways; transforming the way Britain works as profoundly as the coming of the original railways did in the mid-19th century.
"So we will consult in the New Year on the strategic roll-out of a High Speed Rail network and on our preferred route for the first leg between London and Birmingham, giving us High Speed Rail connectivity - not just between London and Birmingham, but onwards to Leeds and Manchester.
The government will consult on the proposals next year - though it remains unknown how the transport budget will fare in the impending comprehensive spending review.
With all government departments under strain, the huge investment required for Mr Hammond's plans may yet become a victim of the Treasury's imposition of austerity on Whitehall.
The transport secretary appears optimistic of his department's chances however.
He claimed his proposals would make the railways "the mode of choice for most inter-city journeys within the UK, and for many beyond."