HS2 franchise: Bidder shortlist revealed
The companies bidding for the West Coast Partnership rail franchise, which will design and run the HS2 high speed services between London and Birmingham, have been revealed.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said First Trenitalia West Coast, MTR West Coast Partnership and West Coast Partnership had all been shortlisted.
The franchise will also be responsible for the West Coast Main Line.
Four bidders for the South Eastern franchise have also been announced.
In the case of the West Coast Partnership franchise all three bidders have a non-British partner.
The winner will be "expected to work with HS2 Ltd to launch the first service on HS2", said the DfT.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the West Coast Partnership would help to "ensure that HS2 becomes the backbone of Britain's railways".
The West Coast Partnership is a new rail franchise which will combine the current InterCity West Coast main line with the planned HS2 high-speed services.
The operator will be responsible for services on both the West Coast main line from 2019 and running the initial HS2 services in 2026.
The West Coast franchise is currently run by Virgin Trains as a joint venture between Stagecoach and Virgin.
Analysis: Richard Westcott, transport correspondent
Some interesting elements to this.
There's the number of bidders for each franchise, three for the prestigious West Coast/HS2 partnership and four for the busy South Eastern franchise.
A few months ago the Public Accounts Committee said it feared the pool of companies wanting to run train lines was "dwindling" and the subsequent lack of competition could put costs up.
The government wants at least three bidders for each franchise and has managed that this time.
That's because there are some relative newcomers who are after a piece of the action. The Chinese Guangshen Railway Company is part of a bid to run the flagship HS2 line, due to open in 2026 and has never bid before. And two Japanese firms who want to help run South Eastern have only dipped their toe in recently on other franchises.
They join the usual suspects, including the French, Dutch and Italian state railways. The only government not allowed to bid to run British rail lines is our own.
Reduce journey times
First Trenitalia West Coast is a joint venture between First Rail Holdings and Italy's Trenitalia. Earlier this year it took on the C2C rail franchise.
MTR West Coast Partnership is a joint venture between Hong Kong's MTR Corporation and China's Guangshen Railway Company.
West Coast Partnership is a joint venture between Stagecoach Group, Virgin Holdings Ltd and France's SNCF C3.
HS2 will run between London and Birmingham.
Construction will begin later this year and it is expected to reduce rail times between Birmingham and London by 32 minutes.
A second Y-shaped phase of HS2 will open in two stages.
The line from Birmingham to Crewe will launch in 2027, with the remaining construction - which includes a spur taking HS2 to a new station at Manchester Airport - due to finish six years later.
There are four companies on the shortlist for the next South Eastern franchise, which Mr Graylng described as "one of the busiest" in the UK, running nearly 2,000 services every weekday.
- South Eastern Holdings is a joint venture company which, on franchise award, will be wholly owned by Abellio Transport Group and East Japan Railway and Mitsui & Co.
- London and South East Passenger Rail Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Govia.
- Stagecoach South Eastern Trains which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Stagecoach Group.
- And Trenitalia is also bidding for the South Eastern franchise.