The £2.75bn competition to design, build and maintain the first fleet of High Speed 2 (HS2) trains has been launched.
The latest procurement round comes amid rumours published in the Sunday tabloids that the Conservatives are considering omitting HS2 from their election manifesto. The Sunday Express said Conservative MP George Freeman, who is the prime minister Theresa May’s policy chief and part of the team putting together the party’s manifesto, told a group of MPs last week that cancelling HS2 could be considered. The Sun quoted a source who said that the future of HS2 was being considered and there was no “done deal”.
The latest call for bidders says that 60 state of the art trains will be procured for the high speed line, putting the cost of each train at around £46M.
Despite the line being designed for “captive” trains – designed to run only on high speed lines – this first round of trains will be “classic compatible” and able to run on high speed lines and the existing electrified rail network.
Classic compatible trains will narrower and shorter bodies than captive trains, so they can run under and next to existing infrastructure such as bridges and platforms. Continental high speed trains use the captive design.
Project promoter HS2 Ltd has said there will be a future round of procurement for new trains in 2033 as part of the phase 2b works. It said this would include some captive trains, but said it was not prepared at this stage to say how many.
The new trains will comprise two, 200m long trains capable of transporting 1,000 passengers at 360km/h.
The successful bidder will also be expected to maintain the trains for 12 years from the new rolling stock depot planned for Washwood Heath in Birmingham.
HS2 Ltd managing director of rail operations Chris Rayner said: “HS2 represents a once in a lifetime chance to rebalance the national economy. It will transform travel in this country, connecting eight of the 10 largest cities in the UK when completed, as well as improving capacity for customers and productivity for the economy.
“The priorities and needs of our future passengers are at the centre of our thinking. Quite simply we want every aspect of travelling by HS2 to exceed expectations – from the passenger experience in selecting their journey and getting information, to travelling through our stations, to the train ride itself. We challenge bidders to achieve this ambition.”
Invitations to tender are expected to be issued to shortlisted bidders in spring 2018 with contract award following in late 2019.
23/04/17 - Story updated to reflect news in Sunday papers.