10/01/2012 01:49 GMT

HS2 To Get Green Light From Justine Greening

The controversial £32 billion HS2 high-speed rail project will be given the green light by the government today.

Transport Secretary Justine Greening will give the go-ahead to the scheme which, in its first phase, will run through picturesque Tory heartlands from London to Birmingham.

It is thought she will announce more measures to mitigate the worst affects of the line which will see passengers travelling at 225mph as the London to Birmingham journey time comes down to 49 minutes.

Initially put forward by Labour, HS2 has been strongly supported by the coalition government, the rail industry and big business.

The Government has argued that the scheme, including the second phase Y-shaped extension to Manchester and Leeds, will generate £44 billion of benefits to the economy over 60 years.

But residents in the Chilterns as well as some local authorities and Tory MPs have been vehement in their opposition to the project which will see the first phase completed by around 2026, with the extension north of Birmingham completed by around 2032/33.

The creation of HS2 will mean some homes will be demolished and some households suffer from noise.

Those against the scheme have stressed that the UK would be better off enhancing the existing rail network, particularly the London to Scotland West Coast Main Line (WCML).

But in a government-commissioned report, Network Rail said that improving existing rail lines would not solve the problem of overcrowding.

The long run-up to this morning's announcement has been studded with reports from various organisations pointing out the various pros and cons of the scheme.

While government, train companies and some businesses have produced figures to support HS2, opponents have announced their own statistics pointing to the whole scheme being a waste of money.