21 August 2007 | Gareth Mytton
Three bidders are in the running to produce the next generation of high-speed trains in the UK.
Alstom-Barclays Rail Group, Hitachi Europe and the Express Rail Alliance Consortium are on the Department for Transport's (DfT) shortlist to make the trains, which are due to start running in 2012.
The contest pits Alstom, manufacturer of the French TGV, against Hitachi Europe, maker of the Japanese bullet train.
Bidders will receive the invitation to tender this autumn and submit their proposals by summer 2008. The contract will be awarded in the winter.
The DfT would not reveal how many groups expressed an interest in the deal.
Tom Harris, rail minister, said: "We are developing a flexible train that can be deployed on different lines, in different lengths and with different sources of power."
The new high-speed trains will replace the Intercity 125, which came into service in 1976.
The winner of the contract will supply between 500 and 2,000 vehicles, depending on cost and how many routes the trains run. The first trains are expected to run on the East Coast Main Line from 2012, before they enter full service in 2015.