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The UK government has confirmed that the controversial HS2 railway will be built.

The first stage of the high-speed service between London and Birmingham is due to be completed between 2028 and 2031.

The second stage, running north to Crewe, Wigan, Manchester and Leeds, will not be completed until 2035-2040.

The 2015 budget put the cost of the project at £56 billion, but an independent review has raised that to an estimated £100 billion.

Opponents of the project have criticised its spiralling cost, environmental impact, and its focus on linking big cities over an investment in struggling regional commuter services.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson today criticised the “poor management” of HS2, but said this should not detract from the “fundamental value of the project.”

Its supporters argue it is crucial for freeing up capacity elsewhere on Britain’s railways and say it will boost regeneration and investment in the midlands and the north.

When first reported that the project had been approved in 2012, when the first stage was expected to be completed by 2026 and the whole project was pegged at £33 billion.