The Department for Transport has confirmed that the High Speed 2 (HS2) franchise will come under the new system of integrating train operations and infrastructure teams, recently announced by transport secretary Chris Grayling.
The franchise will combine the existing Inter City West Coast services with the development and introduction of services on High Speed 2. It will be structured under the traditional separation of roles, with Network Rail responsible for the track. The first franchises under this system will be on the Southeastern and East Midlands lines, which have franchises due to be awarded in 2018.
The new HS2 franchise, called the West Coast Partnership rail franchise, will deliver services on the West Coast Main Line from 2019 as well as designing and then running initial high speed services from 2026.
The winning bidder will be expected to collaborate with HS2 Ltd to design, launch and operate the initial HS2 services and integrate them with the West Coast Main Line timetable, which will be revised to take advantage of the extra capacity provided by HS2.
The Department for Transport has published a prospectus for franchise bidders.
Meanwhile the government has started the procurement process for the £2.75bn contract to build up to 60 high specification trains for HS2.