Latest Rail News

20.01.17

Search starts for company to build £2.75bn HS2 fleet

The government has started looking for a company to design, build and maintain 60 of HS2’s state-of-the-art trains for the first phase of the high-speed rail network, with the contract due to be awarded in 2019.

Companies and suppliers have been pre-advised of the £2.75bn contract to build up to 60 high specification trains capable of speeds of up to 225mph for the new high-speed rail network, which will be used by tens of thousands of people a day.

Separate contracts will add to this fleet, to provide trains for the second phase of the project in 2033. Transport secretary Chris Grayling said that 25,000 jobs and 2,000 apprenticeships will be created by the government’s investment.

“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,” Grayling said.

“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.”

Royal Assent for the Phase 1 hybrid bill is expected in February and building work is due to start on the Birmingham to London section of HS2 in the spring.

The Y-shaped Phase 2 of HS2 will open in two stages, with the Phase 2a line from Birmingham to Crewe due to launch in 2027 and the remaining Phase 2b to Manchester Airport and Leeds due to finish in 2033, at which time there will be separate contracts to supply trains.        

Chris Rayner, HS2 Ltd’s managing director of railway operations, said that the project is 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.”

In addition to building the trains, the successful bidder will be expected to maintain the new HS2 fleet from the rolling stock depot planned to be built in Washwood Heath in Birmingham, which will double as HS2’s Network Control Centre.

The government has said that it will hold an industry event on 27 March where companies will be further informed about the bidding requirements and process and invited to complete the pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ).

Bidders will be shortlisted following the PQQ and the formal invitations to tender issued in 2018 with the contract award set to be announced at the end of 2019.

The announcement has been met with excitement from manufacturers and suppliers alike, with Darran Caplan, chief executive of the Railway Industry Association, saying that the whole UK supply chain is “gearing up for this opportunity”.

Meanwhile, rail manufacturer Hitachi Rail Europe has already confirmed that it will bid for the contract to build the HS2 trains at its plant in Newton Aycliffe in County Durham, where it recently unveiled the first Intercity Express (IEP) train built in the UK.

Hitachi’s sales director Nick Hughes, said: “Our HS2 trains would be built in Britain, for Britain, and combine world-leading Japanese Shinkansen technology with British manufacturing know-how.”

The HS2 project has not been without controversy as it has been dogged by criticisms that it will permanently blight urban and rural communities. Earlier this week the government agreed to give “fair, reasonable and proportionate” compensation to households which will be affected by noise pollution surrounding the construction of HS2.

A spokesperson from High Speed Rail Industry Leaders (HSRIL) said: “HS2 is now moving ahead and contracts such as these will contribute towards transforming regional economies and creating new jobs not just in the future, but now. The industry is ready, willing and able to deliver the HS2 project on time and within budget.”

The announcement comes just a day after the DfT revealed further details of the new West Coast Partnership franchise, which includes bidders designing and running Phase 1 of HS2 from 2026.

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Comments

Huguenot   20/01/2017 at 16:27

Let us hope that, unlike many recent contracts for the supply of new rolling stock, HS2 trains will not merely be assembled in the UK but most of the design and component supply will be from the UK as well.

Graham Nalty   20/01/2017 at 16:43

If we are going to spend a lot of money on HS2, surely we must use as much British labour and design as possible. If done well, this will give the UK a string marketing platform from which to attract overseas work. As a nation the UK is very strong n advanced engineering and the last thing we need to do is to import foreign trains. For example, we do not really need 400m trains unless we were running a very frequent timetable into France via the channel tunnel. The trains need to serve the UK market.

Scott Lawrence   23/01/2017 at 12:33

Let us all hope that these trains are built in the UK and not given away to another overseas builder which will build them off our shores. remember Thames Link?! I am hoping that Hitachi is successful as they have invested more into the UK than say other bidders like Siemens.

Andrew Gwilt   25/01/2017 at 06:35

Siemens, CAF, Bombardier, Hitachi and Alstom could be the preffered bidders to build the new HS2 fleet. Whoever wins gets to manufacture new trains for HS2.

H Witt   14/02/2017 at 15:28

Alstom make the best high speed trains in the world unlike that stuff from the east assembled in UK

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