Brittany Ferries, P&O, Stena and Eurotunnel have been shortlisted for a £300m contract to ensure Britain does not run out of medicines and crucial food after Brexit.
The government said looking for transport companies that can beef up the UK’s freight capacity ahead of a potential no-deal Brexit.
The contract would be to provide up to £300m of additional freight, the Financial Times reported.
Ministers will now run small competitions to see which bidder will be their preferred partner. They are set to decide by early next month.
The contracts will run from 31 October, and carry enough capacity for thousands of trucks a week.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that Britain will leave the European Union by the end of October, “do or die”. He has unlocked £2bn for the government to plan for what happens if Britain leaves without a deal in place.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said the government will do “whatever it takes to ensure the flow of life-saving medicines into the UK”.
In February the government ended a controversial contract with Seaborne Freight, after it was revealed that the company had no ships.
“It became clear Seaborne would not reach its contractual requirements with the government. We have therefore decided to terminate our agreement,” she said.
The £14m contract was awarded to the company in December last year.
Today the Financial Times reported that Ireland has rejected the Prime Minister’s hopes that a broad agreement can be reached with the EU before Brexit, and the detailed hammered out later.