High Speed Rail will be ‘a big boost for Britain’, Unite’s Deputy General Secretary, Jack Dromey said.

Mr Dromey, who will be representing Labour in the Birmingham Erdington seat at the general election, said: "Tens of thousands of jobs will be created and 21st century communications will open up the regions to much needed development and investment.’

"The ambitious £30 billion project will speed travellers from London Euston to Birmingham in 49 minutes. Between the interchange stations at Birmingham Airport and the Cross Rail link in West London, the time will be even quicker – a fantastic 31 minutes.

"British manufacturing must benefit. High Speed trains in Britain should be made in Britain. Government support for the new National Skills Academy for Railway Engineering is very welcome.

"High Speed Rail now creates the opportunity to rebuild a rail industry to rival any nation in Europe."

Tom Foulkes, director general of the Institution of Civil Engineers, said: "The commitment outlined today is a positive step. HSR has huge economic and environmental potential and could also free up capacity on a network that is already stretched.

"However, HSR must be part of a wider, integrated transport plan that offers people real choice and reduces car dependency."

Keith Norman, general secretary of trains drivers' union Aslef, said: "Although this is a high-speed initiative, we're still playing 'catch-up' with the rest of Europe.

"The public must be assured that the funding for a high-speed line will not be poached from the development or improvement of 'traditional' rail lines. And we must be assured that it will not mean a cutback on incentives to increase freight on rail."

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>More: The Dept for Transport High Speed Rail report plus documents