HS2 has named its shortlist of firms in the race to win a £2.75bn contract to deliver trains reaching up to 225mph for the railway linking the capital, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.
The bidders vying for the contract are Alstom Transport, Bombardier Transportation, Hitachi Rail Europe, Patentes Talgo S.L.U and Siemens, and they will now be invited to tender for the contracts which cover the design, build and maintenance of at least 54 trains, in spring 2018.
The contracts will be awarded in 2019.
The first trains will begin to roll off the production line in the early 2020s, and will come into service from 2026.
HS2's managing director for railway operations, Chris Rayner, said "some of the world's most advanced rolling stock" will be delivered by whichever company is successful.
From 2026, the trains will be used by tens of thousands of people every day, as the rail project looks to boost links across the midlands and the north.
By 2033, the plan is to trim journey times between London and Glasgow and Edinburgh to around three hours and 40 minutes
HS2 minister Paul Maynard said:
HS2 will see some of the world’s fastest trains connecting our great cities across the north and Midlands, creating an economy that works for everyone.
But announcements like this show how the benefits of HS2 will resonate far beyond the opening of the new railway – HS2’s legacy of jobs and skills is already being created.
Bidders have been told that the new HS2 trains must deliver jobs and skills in Britain. Construction of the full route to the north west and Yorkshire will create up to 25,000 jobs and 2,000 apprenticeships.
The successful bidder will also maintain the fleet from the dedicated rolling stock depot planned for Washwood Heath in Birmingham.