The department for transport has started the hunt for a company to design, build and maintain a fleet of trains for HS2.
The government is inviting bids for the £2.75 billion contract. It needs around 60 high specification trains for the high-speed rail service.
“Launching the hunt for a manufacturer of these trains is a major step towards Britain getting a new railway which will carry over 300,000 people a day, improve connections between our great cities, generate jobs, and helping us build an economy that works for all,” said transport secretary Chris Grayling.
The first phase of the controversial £56bn railway is due to open in December 2026 and will see trains travel at high speed between London and Birmingham before continuing on the existing West Coast Main Line.
A second Y-shaped phase, taking the high-speed line to Yorkshire, north-west England, and beyond, is due to be completed by about 2032-33.
The contract will be awarded in 2019, with formal invitations to tender in 2018.