Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne will use his trip to China to open the bidding process for the first stage of Britain’s high-speed rail link as he seeks investment in the 50 billion-pound ($76 billion) project.
Companies will be able to bid on at least seven new contracts, valued at 11.8 billion pounds, the Treasury said in an e-mailed statement. Osborne, who is leading a business delegation on a five-day visit to China, will make the announcement in Chengdu Thursday at an event designed to attract Chinese funding for the proposed line linking London and northern England.
Construction of the first part of HS2, connecting London and Birmingham, central England, is scheduled to start in 2017. The project, which is opposed by some lawmakers as the line would pass through their parliamentary districts, is a key part of Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse plan to revive the economies of cities such as Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.
The government is committed to rebalancing the economy, and better transport links are key to supporting growth across northern England and the Midlands, Osborne will say, according to prepared remarks released by the Treasury.
“It’s crucial that businesses and communities from across the U.K. feel the full benefit of forging closer economic links with China,” he’ll say.
Osborne will also announce a new “HS2 partnering day” between British and Chinese companies interested in teaming up on bids for contracts.