The government has given the private sector £4.2bn to develop a new rail link between London and Manchester.
The funding will be used to build a high-level transport corridor connecting the south and west coasts of England with the south-west of England, from London to Leeds, Nottingham, Sheffield, Derby, Birmingham, Sheffield and Manchester, and the east of England to the south of England.
Under the plan, the route would run from Manchester to Leeds.
In return, the government will build a new track to connect the route to the west coast.
A new high speed rail line between London’s south and east coasts and Manchester’s south-east coast is due to be built in the 2020s, but the project has been put on hold due to the Brexit negotiations.
David Cameron has promised to build the rail link by 2021.
Labour said the government was handing over the project to a private sector company.
“The government has already spent more than £2.6bn on new railway infrastructure in the past four years,” said Simon Stevens, the shadow transport secretary.
He said: “This will not just be a rail link, it will be a major railway link that will link London and the rest of the country.”
The Conservative manifesto, released on Thursday, promised a new line linking the east coast with the west and to link the south coast with Leeds.
The manifesto also promised a rail line to connect Birmingham with the rest and a link between Leeds and Manchester in 2021.
The Tories also promised to deliver a new commuter rail line from Liverpool to Birmingham, and a line connecting the east and west coast with a new ferry link to Portsmouth.
Mr Stevens said: “It’s time the Government got serious about getting this infrastructure going, and that is why they have given this company the money to build it.”
This is the only way the government can ensure a high speed link between the two major ports of Manchester and Liverpool, and it’s also the only route that can link the north of England and the south west of England.
“He added: “It’s absolutely vital that we do everything we can to get this rail link up and running as quickly as possible.