The new Azuma trains are officially going into service on the East Coast mainline today, with people travelling from Newark to Grantham getting a first look on Thursday.
- First Azuma to Leeds, Wakefield, Doncaster, Peterborugh and London — from May 15
- First Azuma train to Hull, Brough, Selby, Newark and Grantham — from May 16
The faster trains are the first new ones on the line for 30 years. LNER took over the franchise from Virgin Trains last year, with the Azumas increasing its fleet from 45 to 65 trains, while gradually retiring older carriages.
The the bi-mode trains run on diesel or electric power and began operating five months later than planned. This is due to technical problems with the engines interfering with track equipment.
Yet continuing difficulties with upgrading the electrified East Coast Main Line mean that the bi-mode trains will mainly be using diesel for the foreseeable future.
Azuma trains, meaning East in Japanese, are modelled on the Japanese bullet train. They are assembled at Hitachi’s plant in Newton Aycliffe in County Durham.
They accelerate faster, meaning shorter journey times, and boast more seating (100 more per train), as well as extra leg room in both standard and first class carriages.
There is also free WiFi throughout the train and an improved electronic seat reservation system.
LNER will gradually operate more Azuma services as far as Edinburgh by the end of the year.
More direct trains from Lincoln to London are expected from September.
Hitachi is supplying LNER with 13 nine-car and 10 five-car electro-diesel train sets and 30 nine-car and 12 five-car electric-only units.