Work on a proposed new rail link to Heathrow Airport as part of the HS2 high-speed network has been put on hold.
Details of the next phase of the £32bn HS2 were unveiled earlier.
The government said it would wait until a report on future UK airport capacity needs was complete before making a decision on the Heathrow spur.
The Davies Commission's full report is due in the summer of 2015 - after the next general election.
Passengers heading to Heathrow airport will have to change onto the new London east-west Crossrail service for an 11-minute transfer to terminals.
The government announced the preferred route of phase two running northwards from Birmingham will have five stops at: Manchester; Manchester Airport; Toton in the East Midlands; Sheffield; and Leeds.
Chancellor George Osborne said it was "the engine for growth in the north and the midlands of this country".
More than 70 groups oppose HS2.
StopHS2 has argued that England's north and Midlands will lose out to London, rather than benefit, and that projections do not take into account competition from conventional rail.