London North Eastern Railway (LNER) is set to introduce the first of its new Azuma trains on the East Coast route from Wednesday, 15 May.
Due to be the youngest train on the UK’s rail network, the Azuma will operate between London King’s Cross and Leeds initially. It is the first of 65 trains of the same model to be rolled out across the East Coast line.
LNER’s daily service between Hull, Selby and London will be replaced by Azuma trains in both directions from 16 May. By the end of the year, LNER will increase the frequency of its Yorkshire and Lincolnshire trains from one train per day to two hourly services for Lincoln and Harrogate by the end of the year.
The North East of England and Scotland will follow in the coming months as LNER works to roll out the Azuma across the 581-mile route by summer 2020.
The Azuma is the first new train to be added to the route, which runs between England and Scotland, in more than 30 years. LNER began running the East Coast franchise last year when the government took the route back under its control after Stagecoach and Virgin Trains East Coast were allowed to relinquish the franchise early.
LNER says the trains will add an average of 100 extra Standard class seats per train.
Ultimately, LNER says the new timetable and faster acceleration of Azuma trains will make journeys between London and Edinburgh possible in four hours, and between London and Leeds in two hours.
The trains come after a significant investment along the route to update equipment and technology used to run the Azuma fleet.
Manufactured in Britain by Hitachi Rail, the Azuma uses Japanese bullet train technology for faster acceleration than the current fleet. They incorporate diesel-electric hybrid technology, making them more resilient in the event of power disruption.
LNER says the trains offer increased legroom in Standard class, with each seat equipped with power sockets. Passengers will also be offered improved on-board Wireless free internet access and window blinds in every coach.
Standard class seats on the Azuma have more legroom than the current fleet.
Meanwhile, passengers in First class are offered a new food menu using locally sourced ingredients from across the route and cooked fresh on board.
At this year’s Business Travel Show, BBT caught up with LNER’s head of business development, Mark Plowright, who shared a few details about the company’s plans for its new Azuma fleet.
David Horne, MD of LNER, said: “This is what customers up and down the country have been waiting for and represents a monumental milestone for rail travel. We’ve worked very hard alongside our partners and suppliers to reach this point and I look forward to giving all our customers an excellent experience every time they travel with us.”