HS2 sets out rolling stock timeline

HS2 LTD is to invite expressions of interest from manufacturers for an initial fleet of at least 54 trains for Phase One of the project by the end of June. The company intends to form a shortlist of between three and five bidders, with an invitation to tender following in April 2018. Contract award is planned for December 2019.

The details were released to guests at the HS2 Rolling Stock Industry Event held in late March. Once a contract has been awarded, HS2 plans a lengthy concept and detailed design period ahead of the first build and off-network testing between 2022 and 2024. On-network testing and the serial build will then follow ahead of trial operations starting in 2025, prior to the opening of Phase One in December 2026.

The contract will be for a minimum of 54 ‘conventional-compatible’ trains, capable of running both on the highspeed line at speeds of 360km/h and on the classic network. The number of trains may be increased once service patterns for Phases 1 and 2a of HS2 have been finalised. The full Phase 2 fleet will be the subject of a second procurement, for which HS2 foresees a requirement for over 100 further trains. HS2 says it will welcome consortia applications from two companies forming a joint venture.

The scope for the trains will include all on-board systems including automatic train operation (ATO) and signalling, although wayside signalling and control equipment will be the subject of a separate rail systems procurement. HS2 says a high seating capacity will be required while retaining a good level of comfort and facilities. It is noted that journey times will vary significantly, from 45 minutes between London and Birmingham to over 3½ hours to Scotland, so an adaptable design is called for that could support changes in use during the week or even a single day.


HS2 says the challenge for manufacturers is to provide a train that meets its demands of capacity and flexibility. The 18 trains per hour service planned on the core of the network will require use of ATO and consistent station dwells. It is suggested that splitting and joining of trains could be automated using technology, while station dispatch must utilise a ‘simple and intuitive’ system. A further challenge is the platform-train interface, with HS2 seeking a step-free route from street to seat, and use of sensors and actuators is suggested to help achieve this. Noise mitigation will also be a challenge, especially given the constrained gauge of the conventional-compatible trains, while cost reduction and energy efficiency are other key parameters. HS2 intends to provide a draft technical specification to prospective bidders ahead of the release of the invitation to tender.

The contract will be split into a manufacture and supply agreement (MSA) and train service agreement (TSA). The latter will cover maintenance, including provision of spares and tools, with the manufacturer providing a whole life offer from which HS2 says it will commit to the first 12 years as a minimum. HS2 says it will be seeking strong commitments for both availability and reliability. Integrated maintenance solutions are called for, where trains monitor infrastructure and vice versa, while the rolling stock should have the least possible infrastructure impact on both HS2 and existing rail networks.

The manufacturer will also need to provide simulators and training for the operator and to fit-out the Washwood Heath depot where the trains will be serviced, although construction of the depot will be led by HS2.