TWO major train builders have joined forces to bid for the first HS2 rolling stock contract, worth an estimated £2.75 billion.
Bombardier and Hitachi already possess train-building plants at Derby and Newton Aycliffe, and pointed out that they are proven builders of High Speed trains.
CAF also revealed today that it has been invited to join the list of shortlisted bidders. If successful, it would build the fleet at Newport in South Wales.
The contract now being offered is for a minimum fleet of 54 train sets for Phase 1 of HS2 between London and the West Midlands. The trains will need to be built to a ‘classic compatible’ structure gauge, so that they can also continue on existing lines to cities such as York, Newcastle, Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Hitachi built the 225km/h Class 395s for domestic services on HS1 between London and Kent, while both firms have delivered High Speed trains overseas. Hitachi built the original Japanese ‘bullet trains’ in 1964, while Bombardier has supplied more than 3,000 vehicles for HS services in China including the most recent Zefiro 380, as well as being involved in HS projects in France, Spain and Germany.
The two have worked in partnership before, when they built a fleet of 398km/h ETR 1000 trains for Trenitalia in Italy, which have been dubbed the Frecciarossa, or Red Arrow.
They have also pointed out that their agreement to work in partnership does not indicate a possible merger, and that ‘Hitachi Rail and Bombardier Transportation remain competitors in all other markets and competitions’.
Bombardier’s managing director in the UK Richard Hunter said: “HS2 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform the nation’s transport network and we are very excited by the chance to play a key part in delivering it. By joining together in partnership with Hitachi we will combine both companies global high speed expertise with unrivalled British experience, and help generate skills and prosperity across a number of UK regions.”
Hitachi Rail managing director Karen Boswell added: “HS2 will form the backbone of Britain’s future rail network and is a major investment in our future prosperity. By joining together in partnership with Bombardier, we will draw on a huge wealth of UK experience and the best in modern technology – including our pioneering ‘bullet train’ experience. Our aim is to deliver a new British icon that will be recognised around the world – a Spitfire for the British railway.”
The announcement has come at a time of turmoil in the rail industry and also in the Cabinet, with unconfirmed reports that the HS2 project could be sacrificed to maintain the loyalties of back bench Conservative MPs in the continuing debate over Brexit.
However, the competition to build rolling stock for HS2 remains officially alive, and the other shortlisted bidders, who were also named with Bombardier and Hitachi in November, are Alstom Transport, Patentes Talgo and Siemens.
The formal tendering process is due to start later this year, with the award set to follow in late 2019.