The original route for Phase 1 of HS2 was first made public by the on 11th March 2010, two months before the general election had to take place. The following is Newsnight from that day.
It’s rather instructive to be reminded that the Conservatives had not seen the report in advance and took no part in deciding which of the route options should be selected. As Newsnight reminds us, they wanted it to go via Heathrow, so as to avoid the need for a third runway there. Since then Heathrow spur was put in, and taken out, and now the third runway is back on the agenda as well.
The other factor is the emphasis all the politicians placed on consultation – which was delayed from autumn 2010 to spring 2011. Theresa Viliers (the Conservative shadow transport secretary at the time) had issued a statement in February which said “we believe any route should be decided in consultation with the public, not by a cosy political consensus”. But she was a transport minister when over 1000 responses to the consultation were lost.