Network could see Leeds and Manchester to London journey time of 75 minutes.
Plans have been announced to deliver an initial core high speed rail network linking London to Birmingham, Manchester, the East Midlands, Sheffield and Leeds.
The 335 mile 'Y'-shaped network would bring the West Midlands within about half an hour of London, and Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester 75 minutes or less journey time to the capital, with trains running up to 250mph.
High Speed Two Ltd's (HS2 Ltd) have provided an estimated cost of £30 billion for the core 'Y' network.
Connections onto existing tracks would allow direct high speed train services to be operated to cities including Glasgow, Newcastle and Liverpool as soon as the line opens. The first step would be a high speed line from London to Birmingham.
In the first instance the line would connect to Heathrow airport through a direct link to the Heathrow Express at Old Oak Common. However, the Government has appointed Lord Mawhinney, a former Transport Secretary, to examine potential options for a future station at the airport itself.
Further work is also being carried out to assess options for a connection to the wider European high speed rail network, through either or both a dedicated rapid transport system linking Euston and St Pancras and a direct rail link to High Speed One.
Construction costs for major projects in the UK are found to be higher than for comparable projects elsewhere in Europe and so Infrastructure UK will work with the Department for Transport to consider whether and how to reduce construction costs.
Andrew Adonis said: "Over the next twenty to thirty years the UK will require a step-change in transport capacity and connectivity both to promote and respond to long-term economic growth."
"However, this must be delivered sustainably, without unacceptable environmental impacts, and in line with the Government’s strategy to promote a low carbon economy."
Department for Transport