Changes to the proposed HS2 route have been announced to connect the line with Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR).
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Plans published by the Department for Transport would allow for a potential new route between Manchester and Liverpool to also be used for services between London and Liverpool.
It involves creating two junctions at High Legh, Cheshire, linking the HS2 line with NPR, which is a proposed scheme to improve rail connections between some of the North's largest cities.
This would allow NPR trains to use the HS2 line into Manchester, and HS2 trains to use the NPR line into Liverpool.
The plans are among 11 proposed "refinements" to the route for Phase 2b of HS2, which have been put to a 13-week public consultation.
This is the section running from Birmingham to Leeds via the East Midlands, and from Crewe to Manchester.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the launch of the consultation "marks the first step towards fully integrating HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail".
He went on: "NPR is being developed in close co-ordination with HS2, and is intended to make use of HS2 lines where that makes sense.
"This consultation includes proposals for infrastructure that would one day allow NPR trains to use the HS2 route and vice versa."
The Confederation of British Industry's regional director Damian Waters said: "The new consultation, announced today in Parliament, is a massive opportunity for the North and one we must grasp with both hands.
"Linking up HS2 and the Northern Powerhouse will unlock a series of connections knitting together Manchester, Liverpool and London to a high-quality transport network fit for the 21st century."
Phase 1 of HS2 is due to run between London and Birmingham from 2026, while Phase 2b from Birmingham to Crewe is scheduled to launch in 2027.
HS2 trains will also serve destinations on conventional lines beyond the new high-speed network, including York, Newcastle, Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh.