Journey times between Glasgow and London will be reduced by almost an hour by 2027 after Chancellor George Osborne announced the new High Speed 2 (HS2) is six years ahead of schedule.

Mr Osborne confirmed today that the line connecting Crewe to Birmingham will open early cutting travel times along the West Coast route to Scotland.

The new HS2 route has long been billed as a significant catalyst for driving growth and rebalancing regional economies across the country.

When Phase 2a opens in 2027, passengers travelling between Glasgow and London will see their journey time cut by 48 minutes. Once HS2 is complete, journey times will fall by 53 minutes between Glasgow and London.

The UK Government has set aside £55.7 billion in the 2015 Spending Review for the programme.

Mr Osborne said: “In my Spending Review we committed to the biggest rise in transport spending in a generation meaning that major projects like the construction of HS2, to link the Northern Powerhouse to the South, can begin.

“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.”

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin added: “HS2 will mean an economic transformation for the whole country. Bringing HS2 to Crewe ahead of time is a tremendous opportunity for the North to feel the benefits even sooner.

“Cities across the North West and Scotland will gain much needed additional rail capacity and faster services, helping support growth and deliver jobs.

“We continue to make good progress on our plans for the rest of HS2 Phase Two serving Manchester, East Midlands, South Yorkshire and Leeds and will make a decision on the route in autumn 2016.”