Details of a possible multibillion-pound high-speed rail line, featuring 250mph trains, will be announced on Thursday by the Government.
In a White Paper, the Government will outline the route, and the cost, of a high-speed rail (HSR) line running from London to Birmingham.
Transport Secretary Lord Adonis will also publish the Government’s views on how HSR can be extended north of Birmingham to northern England and Scotland.
He will make public a report produced last year by the High Speed Two (HS2) company - a body commissioned by the Government to produce detailed London-Birmingham HSR plans as well as options for extending HSR further north.
Lord Adonis is expected to announce that 1,100-seater HSR trains will arrive and depart from a new London station, with the route of the line likely to pass through the picturesque Chiltern Hills to Birmingham.
If the line becomes a reality, work would not start until 2017 at the earliest, with a London-Birmingham line unlikely to open before the last part of 2025.
Initially, there would be 14 trains an hour on the route. If the line is extended north, there could be 18 trains an hour.
The announcement is bound to cause political and economic controversy as the route seems certain to pass through areas of outstanding natural beauty.
All three major parties are committed in principle to the idea of HSR but the Conservatives turned down an offer to view the Government plans before tomorrow’s announcement.
Explaining her party’s stance, shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers said she did not want “some cosy deal reached behind closed doors which closes out the communities that may be affected by the route”.
The Tories are also keen to see the route include Heathrow Airport, although it is thought that the Government is unwilling to support a direct link to the west London site.
There has also been concern from some organisations that HSR will be so costly that other rail or public transport projects could be starved of cash.
*Read more about the high speed rail route in Thursday's Birmingham Post