The competition for a £2·75bn contract to design, build and maintain trainsets for High Speed 2 has been formally launched.

UK: The competition for a £2·75bn contract to design, build and maintain trainsets for High Speed 2 was formally launched by project promoter HS2 Ltd on April 20, with the despatch of an OJEU tender notice.

The winning bidder would work with HS2 Ltd to develop ‘around 60’ trainsets suitable for speeds of up to 360 km/h for use from 2026 on the 225 route-km first phase of HS2 between London and the West Midlands, continuing over conventional lines to destinations including Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool, Preston and Wigan. This initial fleet would be built to fit the UK’s restructured loading gauge.

The rolling stock contract is to be awarded as a single package. Invitations to tender are expected to be issued to shortlisted bidders in spring 2018, with the award of the contract planned for late 2019. The successful bidder would maintain the fleet at a dedicated depot at Washwood Heath in Birmingham.

Future contracts would add to the initial fleet to provide trains for phase two of HS2, which would extend the high speed infrastructure to Leeds and Manchester in 2033.

‘What will make HS2's reputation from day one will be its trains’, said Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. ‘It is a given that we want the trains to be comfortable, reliable and a pleasure to use, meeting the highest standards internationally for passenger experience, noise reduction, and environmental sustainability.’

HS2 Ltd said it would work with suppliers to create opportunities for small and medium sized enterprises, and to boost skills and encourage a wide range of people to join the workforce.

‘Companies interested in bidding for the train contract need to push the boundaries’, said Grayling. ‘We want to see innovation, creativity and ambition. The construction of these trains will also leave a legacy for this country, boosting skills, generating employment and strengthening the manufacturing supply chain.’