The new age of the railway: High speed rail phase two set to be unveiled

Proponents of high speed rail say this week will mark the start of a new age of the railway in Britain, as David Cameron prepares to finally give the go-ahead for the project.

A major consultation exercise will now take place, after the publication of the exact route of the line, which will extend 351 miles and slash the journey between Manchester and London to just one hour and eight minutes.

Work would start in four years and cost £32 billion, providing a 250 miles-per-hour double-decker train service starting in London Euston and servicing Birmingham airport and city centre, Nottingham, Derby, Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester.

There will be a possible link to Heathrow Airport, a stop at the Crossrail interchange at Old Oak Common and a link-up with the Channel Tunnel, allowing northerners to get to Paris in three-and-a-half-hours.

The first stage of the line has already been announced, but this week will see the second stage of the infrastructure project unveiled.

The project will require 9,000 construction workers, 1,500 permanent operational jobs and 30,000 people in regeneration and station development.

In phase two, there will be another 10,000 construction jobs, 1,400 operational posts and 49,700 in regeneration