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Common Design Elements

Common Design Elements are parts of the railway with a standardised appearance which will give the railway a recognisable look.

Common Design Elements will also make building HS2 more efficient. They include frequently used structures, such as bridge piers and parapets, as well as lineside noise barriers. You can read more about our design policy in our dedicated information paper. You can view the plans on this page and the information booklet.

Throughout January 2020 we collected feedback on the design of HS2’s Common Design Elements.  The survey closed at 11pm on Thursday 30 January.

Our design teams will now collate the feedback and ensure that it is fed back into the planning process as we develop our approach to HS2’s Common Design Elements.

Sketch of a viaduct crossing over a field.
Viaduct with piers and parapets in a rural setting.

We have designed the Common Design Elements based on:

  • the job they need to do as part of the railway;
  • our design policy; and
  • discussions with the local planning authorities.

We want to hear your thoughts about some of the detailed aspects of our designs. This will help us with the final stages of our design work.

We want to hear what people think about three different Common Design Elements:

  • parapets (part of bridges and viaducts);
  • piers (another part of bridges and viaducts); and
  • lineside noise barriers (used to compensate for the sound of high speed trains).

These Common Design Elements will not exist in isolation. They will be part of HS2, which will include other structures like security fencing, landscaping and operational equipment.

Sketch of a viaduct crossing over a road with cars travelling underneath it.
Viaduct with piers and parapets in a transport corridor setting.

There are some aspects of the designs that we can’t change. For example, they will all be made of concrete, making them durable enough that we won’t need to replace or maintain them as often in the future.


For each Common Design Element, we need to understand the community’s priorities in different settings. We have broken the different settings down into:

  • Urban settings (built-up areas and city centre locations)
  • Rural settings (smaller towns and villages, open countryside and agricultural areas)
  • Transport corridor settings (where HS2 runs alongside existing main roads, motorways, railways and waterways)
Sketch of a viaduct running over a public space with people walking below.
Viaduct with piers and parapets in an urban setting.

Document history

2 January 2020
2 January 2020