A state-backed Chinese rail operator has been shortlisted to run the UK’s new high-speed railway, HS2.
The Guangshen Railway Company, which operates a 481-km line between Guangzhou and Shenzhen in southern China, has teamed up with Hong Kong metro operator MTR, plus Deloitte, WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff and others, to bid for the franchise to run West Coast Main Line from April 2019, and thereafter to design and run the first HS2 services between London and Birmingham from 2026.
Two other consortiums also made the shortlist, announced by the UK Department of Transport yesterday.
They are a joint venture between First Rail Holdings and Italy’s Trenitalia, called First Trenitalia West Coast, and a team called West Coast Partnership, comprising a joint venture between Stagecoach Group, Virgin Holdings and France’s SNCF.
Guangshen Railway Company’s involvement in the consortium, which is called MTR West Coast Partnership, makes it the first bidder for a UK rail franchise from mainland China. According to its website, Guangshen was formed as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the state-owned Guangzhou Railway Group.
The winning consortium will be expected to work with HS2 Ltd to launch the first services on the £55.7 billion high-speed railway.
Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, said: "The West Coast Partnership will support growth and better services on the West Coast main line while helping to ensure that HS2 becomes the backbone of Britain’s railways.
"This will create more seats for passengers, improve connections between our great cities, free up space on existing rail lines and generate jobs and economic growth throughout the country."
Image: China Railway DJJ1 type "Blue Arrow" on the Guangzhou-Shenzhen line (Creative Commons)