Chancellor George Osborne has invited Chinese investors to join the bidding process to construct parts of the HS2 railway between London and Birmingham, offering contracts of up to £11.8 billion.
The contracts are to build tunnels and track beds for the first phase of HS2 linking London to Birmingham, and the treasury has encouraged joint bidding by Chinese and British firms.
The chancellor opened the bidding while at an event in Chengdu geared towards attracting Chinese investment to UK infrastructure projects, with focus on the north of England.
Speaking to gathered investors, he said: “Launching HS2 is key to supporting long-term economic growth across the north and Midlands.
“That is why I’m here in China today opening the bidding process for construction contracts worth £11.8bn, which will propel HS2 forward.
“We are truly entering a golden era of co-operation between our two countries, and it’s crucial that businesses and communities from across the UK feel the full benefit of forging closer economic links with China.”
He was also expected to announce an “HS2 partnering day” for British and Chinese firms to explore joining up on bids for contracts.
The Chancellor also invited Chinese firms to participate in the HS2 skills college, which will be based in Birmingham with a second site in Doncaster.
A skill-swap programme would allow the UK to benefit from China’s expertise as a world leader on High Speed Rail, and help Chinese investors better understand the UK market, the Treasury says.
The event is part of a wider five day tour of China by the Chancellor aimed at deepening cooperation between the two countries and making China the UK’s second largest export market.
Earlier this week the chancellor announced a £2 billion deal with China to secure investment to complete Hinkley Point nuclear power station, and enable greater collaboration on similar projects in future.
Picture courtesy of the Department for Transport