HS2 Ltd today began the search for suppliers to provide switches and crossings for the 280km of new high-speed track between London, Birmingham and the connection with the existing west coast mainline at Crewe.

The contract – worth up to £156m – will include the design, manufacture and delivery of around 180 switches and crossings for Phase 1 and 2a of the project, with options to extend for further equipment to cover Crewe to Manchester in phase 2b as well as the  maintenance depots.

Designed to operate smoothly, reliably and safely at speeds of up to 360km/h and diverging speeds up to 230km/h, the switches and crossings will be a vital component of the HS2 track systems. The contract also includes around 77 rail expansion devices for track on viaducts and bridges.

HS2 Ltd is running a separate procurement process to award four Track Systems contracts for the design and installation of the track and coordination of construction logistics. This will also include integration and installation of the switches and crossings.

HS2 Ltd’s Procurement and Commercial Director, David Poole, said:

“The switches and crossings supplier will play a vital role in delivering the high-tech rail systems that will allow HS2 to run some of the world’s most reliable, fast and efficient high speed trains.

“The launch of this new procurement contest is an important step towards appointing all the suppliers who will deliver the rail systems once the main civils work is complete. HS2 already supports more than 13,000 jobs across the UK and contracts like this will provide a real boost for employers across the supply chain, helping to support skills development and provide opportunities for years to come.”

In order to reduce long term costs and improve performance, the track will be set onto concrete slabs instead of the ballast commonly used on the UK rail network. This approach – known as slab track – is commonly used on metro systems and some international high speed rail lines, and will allow for a higher frequency of service with reduced maintenance requirements.

A contract to deliver the pre-cast slab track has recently been awarded to PORR UK Ltd which will see the slabs made at a new factory in Somerset.

The news comes days after the launch of another, separate procurement completion for the station building systems for the Phase One stations. This framework contract – worth up to £47m – covers components and systems that will be common to all four stations.


This includes:

  • Public Address / Voice Alarm (PAVA);
  • Fire Detection and Alarm System;
  • Building Energy Management System (BEMS);
  • Lighting Control System (LCS);
  • Customer Information System (CIS); and
  • Station Information Management System (SIMS).


The Framework Supplier will also be expected to work collaboratively with HS2 Ltd and Phase One Station Contractors. A shortlist is expected to be announced in summer 2021 with contract award in early 2022.

HS2 is running separate procurement competitions for the other elements of the rail systems, including overhead catenary, high voltage power supply, command and control systems, communications, mechanical and electrical systems, and the depot at Washwood Heath.

Bidders for the switches and crossings contract are expected to be shortlisted in summer 2021, with the contracts to be awarded in 2022.