The shortlisted bidders are Alstom, Bombardier Transportation, Hitachi Rail Europe, Talgo and Siemens. HS2 Ltd will invite the five companies to tender in spring 2018 and it plans to award a contract in 2019. The first trains are expected to roll off the production line in the early 2020s.

The trains will need to be compatible with Britain’s restrictive loading gauge as they will operate beyond the high-speed network to serve Liverpool, Glasgow, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

“The new trains will be required to meet HS2’s design and performance needs and the highest standards internationally for passenger experience, noise reduction, and environmental sustainability, while maximising skills, employment and growth opportunities,” says HS2.

The winner of the contract will maintain the fleet at a new rolling stock depot to be constructed at Washwood Heath in Birmingham. This will also be the location of the HS2 control centre.