Speaking at the Conservative Party conference, Hammond said
consultation will begin next year on the core London-Birmingham section
and announced the government's preferred option for continuing the line
to northern England. This will involve the construction of two lines,
one running north-west to Manchester and the other north-east to Leeds
via the East Midlands. There will be connections to the West Coast Main
Line and East Coast Main Line to allow services to run to destinations
such as Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Detailed route plans have already been published for the initial London
- Birmingham phase of the project. These were developed by High Speed 2
under the previous Labour government but in line with Conservative
policy on the project they will be revised to include a branch to
Heathrow Airport and a connection to High Speed 1, which would allow
through running to mainland Europe.

Hammond says the entire network is likely to cost around £33 billion
although construction is unlikely to begin before the next national
election in 2015. The government expects to invest around £2 billion
per year in the project between 2015 and 2025.