By Marcus Leach

According to reports ministers look set to give the high speed rail link between London and Birmingham the go-ahead, despite strong opposition.

The HS2 scheme, which will cost in the region of £17 billion, will learn its fate later next week, but by all accounts it will get the green light.

Network Rail had reviewed two alternatives to the HS2, but reports suggest they could not generate the capacity required.

If, as is expected, the project gets the thumbs up, the 100-mile connection would be built between 2016 and 2026.

"Groups opposed to high speed rail claim there are alternative packages of railway improvements that can bring similar benefits without making any sacrifices," a government source told the BBC.

"This independent Network Rail report shows that the main alternatives cited by opponents cannot in fact generate the capacity and connectivity boost that a new high-speed rail line could deliver.

"This is why the government is in the process of considering very seriously the question of building such a line."

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