The UK government has unveiled a preferred route for second phase of the HS2 rail project

Five companies shortlisted to build HS2’s superfast trains

Image credit: PA

A £2.75bn contract to build the 225mph-capable trains that will run on Britain's new High Speed 2 (HS2) network has reached the final tendering stage with five companies shortlisted.

Alstom Transport, Bombardier Transportation UK, Hitachi Rail Europe, Patentes Talgo and Siemens are all vying for the right to design, build and maintain the trains. A fleet of at least 54 trains will be needed at first.

The government first started inviting bids in January this year, although the final contract will not be awarded until 2019. Phase one of HS2, which will run between London and Birmingham, is not expected to open until December 2026.

The new trains will also serve destinations on conventional lines beyond the core HS2 network, including York, Newcastle, Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The successful bidder will maintain the fleet from a dedicated rolling stock depot planned for Washwood Heath in Birmingham.

Rail minister Paul Maynard said the £2.75bn contract will create “thousands of skilled British jobs and apprenticeships”.

The award of train-building contracts to foreign firms with overseas manufacturing plants has been criticised in recent years.

In 2011, Germany-based Siemens was handed a £1.6bn deal to build trains for London’s Thameslink, and last year Spanish company CAF won a £490m contract to manufacture trains for Arriva Rail North.

Some of the entries shortlisted by HS2 Ltd already have UK production lines.

Hitachi’s manufacturing plant in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, is building more than 100 Intercity Express trains for the Great Western and East Coast lines over the next three years.

Earlier this year Derby’s Bombardier secured a multimillion-pound investment to build 90 new trains for South Western Railway services.

Alstom is developing its new train technology and manufacturing facility in Widnes, Cheshire.

Spanish manufacturer Talgo last month unveiled a plan to build a factory in the UK and has already visited potential locations in Leeds and Liverpool.

“HS2 will see some of the world’s fastest trains connecting our great cities across the North and Midlands, creating an economy that works for everyone,” Maynard said.

“But announcements like this show how the benefits of HS2 will resonate far beyond the opening of the new railway. HS2’s legacy of jobs and skills is already being created.”

HS2 Ltd managing director Chris Rayner described the shortlist as “a strong line-up of experienced high-tech manufacturing and design talent”.

A second Y-shaped phase of HS2 will launch in two stages.

Phase 2a from the West Midlands to Crewe will begin in 2027, followed by Phase 2b from Crewe to Manchester, and Birmingham to Leeds, in 2033.

In March CH2M, an engineering firm granted £170m deal to develop a section of HS2, withdrew from the contract amid concerns over conflicts of interest. 

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