The new Azuma trains are set to enter the East Coast Main Line, which connects King's Cross to Edinburgh, travelling through Peterborough, five months after first planned.
London North Eastern Railway (LNER) has confirmed the company’s first Azuma train will enter passenger service on the iconic East Coast route tomorrow (Wednesday) from London King’s Cross to Leeds.
The train will depart London at 11.03am and is due to arrive at Leeds at 1.16pm before returning south for the inaugural Leeds to London King’s Cross service departing at 1.45pm.
The Azuma train will be the first of 65 new trains to replace the existing fleet of 45 trains operated by LNER on the East Coast route which connects destinations in Scotland, North East England, Yorkshire, the East Midlands and London.
David Horne, managing director of LNER, said: “The launch of the first Azuma trains is a truly momentous event for LNER and the communities that we serve.
“Setting new benchmarks in rail travel is part of our DNA, and the new Azuma trains are the next big step for LNER in making the customer experience the best that it can be. They will transform travel with improved reliability, greater levels of comfort and an average of 100 more seats on every train compared to the current fleet.
“From extra leg-room and improved WiFi to being more environmentally friendly and accessible to more people, the Azuma experience is a real revolution in rail travel.”
Azuma trains boast a dedicated ‘Let’s Eat Cafe Bar’ in addition to the at-seat trolley service in Standard Class. Customers in First Class will enjoy complimentary two-course meals freshly prepared in the onboard kitchens.
First Class also includes larger tables, reclining seats and both USB and plug sockets at every seat.
The new Azuma trains are part of the Government’s £5.7 billion Intercity Express Programme which will modernise LNER services on the key intercity route used by more than 22 million people each year.
Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, said: “The arrival of the state-of-the-art Azuma trains along the East Coast is the next step in one of the biggest transformations on the UK’s railway, in which we are spending a record £48 billion to modernise our rail network.
“It underlines significant investment by both government and train operators as part of a joint commitment to introduce a host of modern, spacious and comfortable new fleets right across the country. We are proud that the Azumas have been built in the UK, supporting our supply chain and creating hundreds of skilled jobs.
“Millions of passengers will now start to reap the benefits from these state-of-the-art trains, which will deliver more seats on more services along the East Coast route.”
The trains were builty by Hitachi Rail in County Durham. Karen Boswell, managing director at Hitachi Rail, said: “Hitachi-built Azumas will truly transform the passenger experience on the East Coast mainline, offering extra seats, greater reliability and more journeys. As Britain’s new Intercity train of choice, Hitachi’s bi-mode and electric fleets, built in the North East and maintained by our own service teams, have created thousands of jobs and a supply chain that will support a generation to come."
Rob McIntosh, route managing director for Network Rail, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that passengers are now able to travel on the new Azuma trains and we look forward to them reaping the benefits.
“The new trains are a very visible part of the massive investment the rail industry is making to allow more and faster journeys for passengers on the East Coast Main Line. Bringing Azuma into service has been a real team effort between our engineers and the teams at LNER and Hitachi and we continue to work together so that passengers in the north east and Scotland can enjoy them as soon as possible.”
The Azuma will run using overhead electric wires for most routes, resulting in cleaner air.