HomeBusinessThe 5 bidders for HS2 train order reveal their designs

The 5 bidders for HS2 train order reveal their designs

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Five organisations are bidding for a contract to design, manufacture and maintain the trains for the first phase of HS2.

The original list was Alstom, Bombardier, Hitachi, Siemens and Talgo. When Bombardier and Hitachi decided to make a joint bid, CAF was added to the list to maintain five bidders.

The first phase, for at least 54 trains to run on both HS2 and the ‘classic’ network, is likely to be ordered in Spring 2020 with a contract value of around £2.75 billion.

Although graphics of the new designs have been released, technical details have been withheld, but the field includes a range of new designs and adapted existing platforms.


Alstom’s proposed design for HS2.

A new design, although based on existing technology, Alstom’s UK managing director Nick Crossfield commented: “Alstom’s vision is to make HS2 trains a timeless design classic, with a passenger experience that is as smooth, calm and spacious as it is high-speed.”


Bombardier and Hitachi have collaborated on a joint bid.

This partnership has already delivered the Frecciarossa (Red Arrow) ETR1000 for Trenitalia in 2015, which is the fastest yet quietest in-service high-speed train in Europe. Operating at speeds up to 225 mph, it has “transformed passenger experience and connectivity across Italy”.


CAF’s offer is based on its Oaris design.

CAF has stated that its offer to HS2 is based on its Oaris platform. CAF UK director Richard Garner said: “The Oaris platform uses the latest technology to offer high-speed travel and has demonstrated its capacity to operate at speeds over 360 km/h – combined with the advantages of proven reliability, comfort and safety.”


Siemens’ Velaro family is already operational is several countries.

Siemens’ Velaro family of high-speed trains is already in operation in Spain, China, Russia, Germany and the UK, where its Eurostar e320 fleet runs at 320km/h.

William Wilson, CEO of Siemens Mobility, said: “Our team has worked tirelessly to develop an offer that transforms how passengers experience high speed trains and set the standard for other global high-speed rail systems to follow.”


Talgo has suggested an Avril design to HS2.

Talgo has based its offer for the supply of trains to HS2 on Avril – its latest generation rolling stock platform. This represents the latest evolution of very high-speed vehicles, which has been developed over several decades using experience gained from supplying trains to Spain, Saudi Arabia and Central Asia.

Talgo UK’s Jon Veitch commented: “HS2 will be crucial as the UK economy grows. We humbly believe that Talgo’s combination of experience and adaptivity is the best option for both train operating companies and taxpayers.”

Who will win?

That’s anyone’s guess.  All five companies have the pedigree. Bombardier and Hitachi already have factories in the UK that could build these trains tomorrow, so they must be strong contenders as splitting the volumes between the two locations would make the quantities more manageable and keep the work in the UK.

Siemens is building a factory in Goole to build London Underground’s deep-tube trains – but would it get two major contracts or would the DfT want to spread orders around?

CAF’s new factory in Wales is now in operation, as is Alstom’s technical centre in Widnes, and Talgo has said it would like to build a factory here.

So let’s see, in one year’s time we should know…

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  1. Hi, I’m a member of the public listening on the radio to Sophie Christiansen, Paralympic gold medalist, describe her stress and problems trying to get on and off trains with her wheelchair. You may well have seen the viral video doing the rounds. It occurred to me that, rather than relying on staff to always be available to help people, which will inevitably break down from time to time, what if there was an engineered solution built into the trains? Could you clever people come up with a carriage that automatically dispenses a ramp every time it gets to a station? Then people who are reliant on a wheelchair wouldn’t need to worry about whether staff were going to turn up, they would just need to make sure they got on the right carriage. Apart from adding a bit of dignity to their situation, it would surely help to keep everything running on time. It could be synchronised to the operation of the doors so that it wouldn’t hold anyone up or need any special operation other than the usual making sure that no one is trapped half in, half out. So, how about it engineers, are you up for a challenge?!


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