The three shortlisted bidders comprise:

• First Trenitalia West Coast, a 70:30 joint venture between First Rail Holdings and Trenitalia

• MTR West Coast Partnership, a joint venture between MTR Corporation and Guangshen Railway Company (with subcontractors Deloitte MCS, Panasonic Systems Europe, Snowfall AB,, and WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff) and

• West Coast Partnership, a joint venture between Stagecoach Group, Virgin Holdings, and SNCF C3

The winning bidder will work with HS2 Ltd to design, launch and operate initial services and deliver the new timetable on the West Coast Main Line, when it is revised to take advantage of the extra capacity provided by HS2.

An invitation to tender will be issued to the shortlisted consortia in November, with a contract expected to be awarded in November 2018.