Construction will now start on the high-speed line which will connect London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.
The UK government said the approval provides a ‘vote of confidence in construction companies and the wider supply at a time when the construction sector faces uncertainties during the coronavirus outbreak’.
HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson said: “While the government’s top priority is rightly to combat the spread of coronavirus, protect the NHS and save lives, we cannot delay work on our long-term plan to level up the country.
“HS2 will be the spine of the country’s transport network, boosting capacity and connectivity while also rebalancing opportunity fairly across our towns and cities.
“Following the decision earlier this year to proceed with the project, this next step provides thousands of construction workers and businesses across the country with certainty at a time when they need it, and means that work can truly begin on delivering this transformational project.”
But the announcement was met with criticism, with many questioning how the government could justify a ‘vanity project’ during an economic crisis.
The rail project is expected to cost most than £100 billion, nearly double the original budget, and is already behind schedule.
The first phase, between London and Birmingham, was due to open in 2026 but last September Transport Secretary Grant Shapps admitted it could now be 2028-2031 before the first trains operate.