THE Government has started the procurement process for the first generation of trains on HS2.
The contract is valued at £2.75 billion, and will involve up to 60 new trains capable of travelling at 360km/h.
The work will create 'hundreds of jobs', according to the Department for Transport, and the winning bidder will maintain the fleet at Washwood Heath in Birmingham. The depot will share the site with the HS2 Network Control Centre.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: “Launching the hunt for a manufacturer of these trains is a major step towards Britain getting a new railway which will carry over 300,000 people a day, improve connections between our great cities, generate jobs, and helping us build an economy that works for all.
“Hundreds of jobs will be created in building and maintaining these trains, representing a great opportunity for British based businesses and suppliers. In total 25,000 jobs and 2,000 apprenticeships will be created during HS2 construction and we have held discussions with UK suppliers to make sure they are in the best possible position to win contracts.”
Chris Rayner, who is managing director for railway operations at HS2 Ltd, added: “We are looking for a supplier who is capable of delivering and maintaining some of the world’s most advanced rolling stock, with designs putting the passenger at their heart to ensure seamless, accessible, fast and reliable journeys.
“Starting from 2026, our trains will be used by tens of thousands of people every day, bringing the benefits of high speed rail not only to the core network, but also onward to places like Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool, Preston and Wigan.”
The Hybrid Bill which will authorise the construction of Phase 1 between London and Birmingham is still going through the House of Lords, but hopes have risen that Royal Assent cannot be far ahead after the Lords Hybrid Bill Committee had reported the completion of its work hearing petitioners who could be affected by the construction of Phase 1. The government responded earlier this week.
A number of international train makers are expected to be interested, and it is also only a few days since it was reported (RailnewsPrint239) that Chinese firms have been discussing a joint venture to build trains for HS2 with Knorr Bremse at Wolverton in Buckinghamshire, although there has been no official confirmation so far.
Today's announcement marks the publication of the Periodic Indicative Notice, which gives preliminary advice that the process will begin formally this spring, in the wake of Royal Assent to the Phase 1 Bill.
There will be an industry event on 27 March where interested companies can find out more about the bidding requirements and process. This will be followed by the launch of the pre-qualification questionnaire, which will provide further details of specifications.
Bidders will then be shortlisted and the formal invitations to tender are set to follow in in 2018. The DfT intends to make contract award at the end of 2019, so that the trains will be ready for the planned opening of Phase 1 between London and Birmingham in 2026.
The news has been welcomed by companies which supply the railway industry with thousands of products and services. Railway Industry Association chief executive Darren Caplan said: “These are very exciting times for rail in the UK.
“The whole UK supply chain is gearing up for this opportunity and RIA Members have much to offer, from high quality components to cutting edge software, from detailed design to operational planning.
“HS2 will create thousands of jobs and apprenticeships and the project will showcase the best of British.”