The government has commissioned High Speed 2 chairman Sir David Higgins to draw up proposals for connecting cities in the north of England.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the study would consider how to bring the benefits of high speed rail to the North quicker; and how to speed up East-to-West journeys.
Higgins will work with Network Rail and the Highways Agency to produce a report later this year.
McLoughlin said: “HS2 is a key part of this government’s growth strategy and I am keen to maximise its benefits as we look to deliver economic growth in the North and across the country more generally.”
Higgins said in March that ministers should bring forward by six years the delivery of a 69km section of HS2 from Birmingham to Crewe.