August 1, 2019 @ 11:02 by Richard Dawson
The new fleet of Azuma trains from London North Eastern Railway (LNER) will begin serving York, the North East and Edinburgh today (August 1).
The Azuma was built here in the North East at Hitachi Rail’s Newton Aycliffe site and promises more seats, more legroom, better WiFi, improved accessibility, greater reliability and crucially, faster journey times.
LNER have teamed up with the National Railway Museum to commemorate the launch of the train. As the Azuma makes its first journey up through York and on towards Scotland, it will be welcomed by historic locomotives in the shape of the A4 Mallard, which set the world record for steam in 1938 and the Flying Scotsman, which needs no introduction.
Both classic trains were designed by Sir Nigel Gresley when he was chief mechanical engineer at LNER. The A4 class of steam locomotives cut the journey time from London King’s Cross to Newcastle to just four hours.
It is hoped that the new Azuma service will build on this legacy and set new standards in rail travel along Britain’s East Coast.
David Horne, managing director at LNER, said: “This week marks a new turning point for rail travel in Britain with LNER’s Azuma trains launching on our iconic route, connecting the region with Scotland and London.
“LNER is unique due to our rich heritage of history-making people, trains and milestones. Sir Nigel Gresley, Flying Scotsman, Mallard and the famous speed records are part of the deep well of inspiration we draw upon to drive us further forward in creating new milestones for LNER.
“Azuma is a great example of how we are transforming rail travel, much in the same way our predecessors have done whether that be through the likes of the Class A4s, Deltics, HSTs or Class 91s. They’ve all been great trains that have served LNER customers well over the years, and Azuma now continues that proud tradition of setting new standards in rail travel.”
Azuma passenger services from London to York, the North East and Edinburgh start today, and it is thought that 65 new Azuma trains will replace all of the existing LNER fleet by summer 2020.
The Azuma fleet has been designed to cut emissions by 90 per cent as well as reducing noise at stations and for communities living along the East Coast route.
Built in the North East, LNER’s Azuma trains are set to be a major step forward in British rail travel.