HS2 Image: Farrells

The section of the HS2 rail link between Birmingham and Crewe will open six years earlier than planned, the Chancellor George Osborne has said.

"Bringing forward this part of the HS2 route by six years is a massive step in the right direction for the Northern Powerhouse where high-speed rail will play a big role in connecting up the entire region with the rest of the country," the chancellor said.

It means that the second phase of the high-speed rail project will open in 2027, just one year after the first phase, which links London to Birmingham. The Treasury says that journey times between London and Crewe would be cut by around 45 minutes.

The government plans to boost transport links in the North as part of creating its 'Northern Economic Powerhouse'.

Following last week's announcement in the Autumn Statement that an extra £13 billion would be spent on transport in the North, Mr Osborne revealed brief details of 'Transport for the North', a new body led by former CBI director general John Cridland to improve transport in the area.