HS2, the controversial high-speed rail line linking London with the North is to be extended north of Birmingham after MPs approved the additional 36 mile 2A section.
Work is already underway on the London-Birmingham stretch, but with this latest extension the line will run up to Crewe.
Approval has come earlier than expected and contracts have yet to be awarded for the GBP4.5bn of work involved.
Mark Thurston, HS2’s chief executive, said: “Parliament’s approval for extending HS2 beyond the West Midlands to the North is a clear sign that MPs recognise the enormous potential of this scheme and continue to give their strong support.”
The extension is expected to mean employment for 5,000 construction staff.
HS2 has been mired in controversy since it was unveiled over the huge cost, environmental damage and doubt over the benefits.
Critics slammed today’s decision saying that the impact of coronavirus on rail travel has made previous traffic growth projections meaningless.
Dame Cheryl Gillan, the MP for Chesham and Amersham, which lies on the HS2 route, queried the cost and whether “The future use of public transport will be at a level that will make this railway viable in any way, shape or form?”
Environmental campaigners have recently taken to hiding in tunnels underneath Euston Station in London to protest against the development.