Winner will be revealed before the end of the year

Turner & Townsend, Mace, CH2M Hill and Parsons Brinckerhoff have been shortlisted for the high profile role of development partner on the £32bn High Speed 2 rail project.

The contract, worth between £50-70m, is for HS2, the private company set up by the government to look at the case for the scheme and that will lead delivery if it is approved. However, its award is subject to transport secretary Justine Greening giving the scheme the green light.

The successful bidder will support development of the government’s Hybrid Bill, which will provide the necessary statutory framework for the scheme to go ahead and is expected to be put before parliament by autumn next year. It is understood Mace has been shortlisted in partnership with engineer Atkins.

HS2 has submitted a report to Greening summarising the responses to the HS2 public consultation between February and June this year, with Greening expected to decide whether to approve the scheme by the end of the year.

News of the shortlist came as consultants submitted their pre-qualification questionnaires for the even larger HS2 professional services framework - worth between £250-350m.

The deadline for the tender - covering architects, engineers, urban planners and other consultants - was this week.

The framework was split into four disciplines - civil engineering and structural design at a cost of £160m-£200m, railway systems design services at a cost of £25-£45m, environmental services at a cost of £50-£75m and land referencing services at a cost of £15m-£30m.