Five manufacturers have been shortlisted in a £2.75 billion race to build the trains which will run on the new high-speed rail line between Birmingham and London.
The quintet will now go through to the final stage of tendering for the mega-contract to build more than 50 trains ready for use on HS2 when it opens in 2026.
The shortlisted bidders are Alstom, Bombardier, Hitachi Rail Europe, Patentes Talgo and Siemens and the contract will cover the design, build and maintenance of at least 54 trains capable of operating at speeds of up to 225 mph.
The successful bidder will maintain the fleet from a dedicated rolling stock depot planned for Washwood Heath, in Birmingham, where there will also be a HS2 Network Control Centre.
The first phase of HS2 is due to run between central London and Solihull and Birmingham from 2026, with later phases running to the North West, East Midlands and Yorkshire by 2033.
The tender process will launch next spring with the contract awarded in 2019 and the first trains will begin to roll off the production line in the early 2020s.
HS2 Minister Paul Maynard said: "Thousands of skilled British jobs and apprenticeships will be created by HS2 which gets a step closer as we reveal the companies shortlisted to build the high-speed trains.
"HS2 will see some of the world's fastest trains connecting our great cities across the north and Midlands, creating an economy that works for everyone.
"But announcements like this show how the benefits of HS2 will resonate far beyond the opening of the new railway. HS2's legacy of jobs and skills is already being created."
Chris Rayner, HS2's managing director of railway operations, added: "It's great to see such a strong line up of experienced high-tech manufacturing and design talent.
"Together with the successful bidder, HS2 will deliver some of the world's most advanced rolling stock, engineered to provide seamless, accessible, fast and reliable journeys.
"Starting from 2026, our trains will be used by tens of thousands of people every day, transforming links across the Midlands and the North and providing much-needed extra capacity between Britain's major cities."