Speaking at the Conservative Party conference, transport secretary Philip Hammond announced that the government would consult on a Y-shaped route with separate lines to the two cities. This rules out the alternative "reverse S" route from Birmingham to Manchester and across the Pennines to Leeds.
Colin Buchanan director of economics John Siraut said that Hammond has opted for the sensible option, but warned of a need to commit to the whole project. "If you're going to build a High Speed 2 network it has to be all or nothing. There's no point working on one stage if there's no guarantee of the rest being built," he said.
Steer Davies Gleave director Jim Steer added that there is nothing surprising about the announcement. "Ruling out the reverse S route was a necessary hurdle for the government to overcome, and it hasn't really said anything on this since the election," he said.
"Bringing forward the project in one is stretching things too far. Things have to proceed stage by stage but they will have to spell out the long-term plans."
The DfT confirmed that the chosen option would be open for consultation early next year. Subject to the outcome and further work, there would then be a detailed consultation on the Leeds and Manchester routes.