The government will publish its plans for the second phase of the High-Speed 2 rail project in the autumn, and could include options for stations in Manchester.
Other stations in the proposals could be those in Leeds, South Yorkshire, the East Midlands and at Heathrow airport.
A report on phase two from HS2 Ltd, including such options, was received by the government at the end of last month, transport secretary Justine Greening has confirmed.
The report from HS2 Ltd, the company set up by Whitehall that is considering the case for the line, included “advice on the case and potential locations for additional stations”, she added. But to minimise blight, Greening said she would publish the advice at the same time as giving the government’s preferences.
The government is already committed to going ahead with the first phase of the
£32 billion project which would see ultra-fast trains running from London to Birmingham on a new line which could be completed by 2026.
The second phase envisages a Y-shaped line continuing north of Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds with connections further north and into Scotland and which would be completed around 2032-33.
In a parliamentary written statement, Greening said she intended to publish the HS2 report in the autumn “together with a government response setting out initial preferred route and station options”.
Greening said that only once a full public consultation had been launched and completed would any decisions be reached.
When the preferred route options are published, the government would consult on and introduce an exceptional hardship scheme to assist property owners affected by the proposals, said Greening.
She added that she had asked her officials to explore options for bringing forward to 2013 formal public consultation on phase two, and she would set out her proposed timetable later this year.
The Institution of Mechanical Engineers has come out in support of HS2, but has warned the government that it must ensure the project is an investment in UK jobs and skills. Philippa Oldham, head of transport at the IMechE, said the high-speed rail link would help to revitalise the country’s creaking transport infrastructure and take the railway system into the 21st century. “But government must ensure that the £32 billion that will be designated to HS2 is also an investment into UK jobs and skills – the country needs to invest in and nurture its engineering talent,” she said.
“It is positive that plans include linking up not just London and Birmingham to the high-speed network but also Leeds and Manchester – all critically important hubs for UK trade and business.”
But the plan has also met vocal opposition, especially from those living in towns adjacent to the proposed route. HS2 Action Alliance, a not-for-profit organisation working with more than 70 local community groups, said the project was based on a flawed business and environmental case and that the link would fail to help cure the north-south divide.