The contract – worth an estimated £275m – will see the winning bidder work with HS2 Ltd to transform the 30 hectare brown field site into the nerve centre of the HS2 network.

From this point, next to the main line into Birmingham Curzon Street, HS2’s fleet of state-of-the-art high-speed trains will be serviced and maintained, 24 hours a day, seven days a week – ready to provide an unparalleled level of frequency and reliability for passengers across the UK.

The depot will include a 40,000 m2 Rolling Stock Maintenance Building, Carriage Wash, Automatic Vehicle Inspection Building and 14 sidings where trains can be stored overnight.

Also on the same site will be the Network Integrated Control Centre, the centre of the network’s state-of-the-art signalling and control systems as well as office buildings for cleaners and drivers.

The Washwood Heath site was formerly home to the disused Metro-Cammell railway works which closed in 2004. A team from HS2’s early works contractor LM, completed the demolition of the buildings on the site last year, ready for the start of construction.

Once operational, Phase One and 2a will have a fleet of at least 54 trains which will be based at Washwood Heath. These 200m long units can be doubled up to create 400m long trains and will serve destinations beyond the HS2 network – like Liverpool, Preston, Carlisle and Glasgow – via a connection to the existing West Coast Main Line at Crewe.

Bidders are expected to be shortlisted for the single-stage design and build contract in the summer with contract award in 2023.

HS2 Ltd’s Commercial Director, David Poole said: “The start of the search for a contractor to build Washwood Heath is a real milestone for the HS2 project and a huge long-term opportunity for the area. With main works civils construction now well underway, we are putting the specialist team in place to support operation of the new railway.

“Washwood Heath will be at the heart of the operation – and around 500 high skilled jobs based at the depot will be a major boost for the community.”