A shortlist of engineering and environmental consultants has been drawn up for the second phase of the planned high-speed rail network.
While the first phase focuses on creating a high-speed connection between London and Birmingham, phase two will see the creation of links from the West Midlands city to Manchester and Leeds via the east Midlands and south Yorkshire, with connections further north into Scotland.
Now, engineering and environmental framework agreements are being worked out, although they will be dependent on the government pledging its support to the initial proposed phase two route, a decision which is expected later this autumn.
Among the shortlisted engineering bidders are AECOM, Arup, Atkins, Halcrow, Hyder, Jacobs, Mott MacDonald and WSP-Parsons Brinckerhoff JV, who have all been invited to tender for the contract.
The engineering framework for consulting and associated professional services is expected to be worth up to £10 million, with the accompanying environmental framework worth between £12 and 30 million.
HS2, the organisation behind the ambitious rail project, received the government go-ahead earlier this year and aims to provide a Y-shaped network of direct, high-capacity, high-speed lines between the UK's major city hubs.
There will also be direct links to Heathrow Airport and to the continent via the High Speed 1 line.