Lancashire business chiefs have welcomed the announcement that the controversial HS2 rail link will be built.
The first phase of the route will travel between London and Birmingham, with a second phase going to Manchester and Leeds.
It could be as late as 2040 before the second spur reaches the North West.
But it looks as if the much-needed Northern Powerhouse Rail initiative across the Pennines will go ahead.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced to MPs that he hoped that by pressing on, HS2 services could be running by the end of the decade.
The prime minister added he was going to appoint a full-time minister to oversee the project and criticised the HS2 company’s management of the scheme.
Mr Johnson added: “This is not just about getting from London to Birmingham and back.
“This is about finally making a rapid connection from the West Midlands to the Northern Powerhouse, to Liverpool, to Manchester, to Leeds and simultaneously permitting us to go forward with Northern Powerhouse Rail across the Pennines – finally giving the home of the railways the fast connections they need.
“And none of that, none of it makes any sense without HS2.”
Geoff Mason, Policy Manager at the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce said: “The increase in capacity to be delivered by HS2 is a huge boost to business. Having now been approved, it is essential to start work immediately, and that further delays are avoided.
“Any review into the northern legs of the project need to focus on maximizing connectivity and bringing work forward.
“It cannot be as a cost-cutting exercise resulting in a second-rate service if government claims of ‘levelling up’ are to be believed.”