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HS2 railway, UK: route optioneering

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The company HS2 Ltd was set up by the UK government in January 2009 with an initial brief to report on options for High Speed Two, a high-speed railway between London and the West Midlands. This was to include access to London and Birmingham city centres, but with the potential for future extension northwards. Options were also required for intermediate stations and connections to the Great Western main line, the Elizabeth line and High Speed 1. From the outset the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd applied government business case methodology for preparing and assessing proposals in order to derive the best scheme and to be able to justify the choices during the consultation and approval process. An ‘initial preferred route’ was published in 2010 and, following modification, there was a national public consultation in 2011. The hybrid bill for phase 1 was deposited in November 2013 and royal assent was obtained in February 2017. Throughout, a rigorous process of longlisting possible options, shortlisting and selection was adopted. At each stage the proposals became more detailed as the route, design and mitigations were developed. Consequently, the selection criteria, costing and evaluation also became more detailed and specific.