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HS2 Heats Up With Joint Venture and New Bidder

Exciting news on the HS2 front as two of the world’s biggest rolling stock manufacturers have joint forces. Bombardier and Hitachi are putting forward a joint venture in the hopes of securing the lucrative contract to build Britain’s next generation high speed trains.There had been rumours of joint venture for some time and in fact in our own article: Who will win HS2? We speculated on a merger. A joint venture makes sense as Bombardier already have the infrastructure and people in the UK where Hitachi have the experience and knowledge.

Karen Boswell, managing director at Hitachi Rail, said: “By joining together in partnership with Bombardier, we will draw on a huge wealth of UK experience and the best in modern technology – including our pioneering ‘bullet train’ experience. Our aim is to deliver a new British icon that will be recognised around the world – a Spitfire for the British railway.”

With these two joining forces, HS2 have allowed CAF Rail to enter the fray. CAF are originally from Spain and have experience in delivering High Speed trains on the Madrid-Sevilla line. They do also have a footprint in the UK with an overhaul and storage facility in Stockport and a new assembly factory down in Newport. I would think that they might be in a better position to win contracts than the other Spanish bidder Talgo, on the basis that they already have a base in the UK and use UK suppliers.

The HS2 Rolling Stock deal is worth £2.75 billion for a minimum of 54 trains that will run on Phase 1 of HS2 between London and the West Midlands. The current overview of bidders include:

Bombarder + Hitatchi: Bombardier have a long history in the UK and coupled with the High Speed experience of Hitatchi, this looks like a strong contender.

Alstrom: Relatively new to the UK market, Alstrom have a few high-speed models they currently manufacture abroad. In the UK much of their focus seems to be on refurbishment, and their major infrastructure is a refurb facility in Widnes.

Siemens: Recently won a £2.5 billion contract for London Underground trains after announcing plans for a new manufacturing facility in Goole. Many observers expected that they would be the ones to submit a joint venture, but perhaps this new facility and footprint on UK soil might change that.

Talgo: Spanish Rolling stock manufacturers, at the time of writing are yet to unveil plans for any UK manufacturing base. I would suspect heavily that this will be based on contract wins, and still feel as though they are the outsiders to win.

CAF: As above, another Spanish rolling stock manufacturer, they have invested in the UK and have done so without any HS2 contract to bid for, so it will be interesting to see if being invited to tender might lead to new announcements or potential manufacturing bases.

Bronte Precision are sub-contract manufacturers with a history of making Rolling Stock Components for both new and old vehicles. We watch the HS2 bidding process with great interest and hope however wins, it will create skilled jobs and infrastructure in the UK.