The high speed rail line between London and Birmingham has been approved to go ahead by Transport Secretary Justine Greening, despite wide spread opposite from Tory MPs, councils and countryside groups.

The 250mph line which is due to be completed in 2026 is the first stage of the project and will cost £16.3 billion. The second stage will run two more lines from Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester, and eventually it is envisaged that the lines could extend to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

There has been opposition against the cost of the project and its effect on the landscape that it travels through; such as the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty where less than two miles of track will be visible. However, the route will consist of 28 miles of tunnels and 40 miles of cuttings in order to reduce noise levels to those close by.

“This is not in any way a vanity project, this is a key and vital investment in Britain’s future,” said Greening. The Government also argues the project will generate £44billion of benefits to the economy over 60 years.

The journey from London to Birmingham will take 45 minutes, a 39 minute reduction from the current time, and a trip from Birmingham to Paris will take three hours instead of the current four.