HS2 took a major step forward as Britain’s new railway successfully completed over three years of Parliamentary scrutiny to receive Royal Assent.
Construction will now begin on schedule in the spring. Also launched are schemes totalling £70 million for communities along the route between Birmingham and London.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: "Getting the go-ahead to start building HS2 is a massive boost to the UK’s future economic prosperity and a further clear signal that Britain is open for business.
"HS2 will be the world’s most advanced passenger railway and the backbone of our rail network. Royal Assent is a major step towards significantly increasing capacity on our congested railways for both passengers and freight; improving connections between the biggest cities and regions; generating jobs, skills and economic growth and helping build an economy that works for all.
"By investing in infrastructure the government is seizing the opportunity provided by leaving the EU to build a more global Britain. We will now press ahead with constructing the railway while continuing to ensure affected communities get appropriate support and are treated with fairness, compassion and respect."
HS2 will create around 25,000 jobs during construction as well as 2,000 apprenticeships. It will also support growth in the wider economy, worth an additional 100,000 jobs.
From 2026 tens of thousands of passengers will be using high speed trains every day between London and Birmingham; services will travel onwards to places like Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool, Preston and Wigan.
From 2033, the high speed network will go into the centres of Manchester and Leeds and services will go onwards to places such as Darlington, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
David Higgins, Chairman of HS2 comments: "Achieving Royal Assent for Phase One of HS2 between Birmingham and London with such significant parliamentary support, is a monumental step in transforming rail travel in Britain. We have a long journey ahead of us to build the railway and secure permission for Phase Two to make sure that the full benefits of HS2 are realised. This journey will see businesses right along the route benefit from greater access to the skills, markets and professional services they need to succeed in today’s global market. It will directly create some 25,000 jobs as well as forcing the pace of innovation in the construction industry.
"Throughout this process HS2 remains committed to mitigating the environmental impacts whilst continuing to engage with each individual community which is making sacrifices to enable a 21st century railway network to be built in Britain."
The High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) hybrid Bill – essentially the planning application for HS2 – received overwhelming support from MPs. In the Bill’s third reading in the Commons MPs voted 399 to 42 in favour. In the Lords, the figures were 386 to 26 in support of the Bill passing.
The government has previously introduced a comprehensive package of compensation and assistance for those directly affected by HS2.