Ministers revealed the routes of the long-awaited high-speed rail lines linking London to the north of England today, but unions warned they can't become "a rich man's toy" that only benefits business.
The £32.7 billion extension beyond the planned London to Birmingham HS2 line is designed to cut journey times, ease overcrowding and boost business.
The Department for Transport said the 211-mile Y-shaped extension would be scheduled for completion in 2032, six years after the first phase.
One route will stop at Manchester airport before finishing alongside Manchester Piccadilly.
The other will pass through a new East Midlands hub between Nottingham and Derby on its way to Sheffield's Meadowhall shopping centre and Leeds, which will connect to the main station via a walkway.
There will also be a "dedicated link" alongside the high-speed line at Crewe to link up with standard trains - reducing journey times to Liverpool and Glasgow.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said Britain had been left "playing catch-up" to other networks in Europe because the service was run for private profit.
"We must make sure we don't fall for the old political trick of rail staff cuts and high fares today on the promise of high-speed jam tomorrow," he said.
And TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes added that the service must be affordable for ordinary families.
"The walk-on return fare between London and Manchester is already eye-wateringly high at over £300," he said.
"We don't want to see just those exclusive high fares on the new line which will make the service solely a rich man's toy."