The plans were announced in a command paper that sets out the government’s plans for the second phase of HS2 which would see the construction of a Y-shaped network from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds.
The paper said that the stretch connecting Crewe to Birmingham will open in 2027, six years quicker than previously proposed.
It said: "Accelerating a section of Phase Two will improve journey times to northern cities sooner, support growth and jobs in the local area, and help to create the conditions for both the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine."
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said "good progress" is being made on plans for the rest of HS2 Phase 2, which would serve Manchester, East Midlands, South Yorkshire and Leeds.
A decision on the route will be made in autumn 2016, he added.
The announcement came as the chair of the company responsible for delivering the project, Sir David Higgins, published a report setting out his recommendations for a new hub station in Leeds.
It concluded that HS2 should be connected to the existing rail services through a common concourse. This would allow "easy access from HS2 to local services, and vice versa", it said.
Meanwhile, chancellor George Osborne has also confirmed the first chair of Transport for the North – the body tasked with transforming transport connectivity across the north of England – as John Cridland, director general of the UK business organisation the Confederation of British Industry.
Senior figures behind the High Speed Two (HS2) rail project are to address a seminar in Birmingham tomorrow on how the public and private sectors can work together to capitalise on opportunities arising from the scheme. For more information and to book your place click here.