Virgin Trains’ customers are a step closer to new trains as work begins on the Azuma (Class 800) fleet, due to enter service on the east coast in 2018.
Work on the bodyshells is taking place in Kasado, Japan, before the trains arrive in the UK to be built by Hitachi’s manufacturing team in the North East. Hitachi’s UK train manufacturing team at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, is home to over 900 employees including over 50 apprentices. UK build work on the Virgin Azuma will begin this summer.
The Virgin Azuma will transform travel and customer experiences when it arrives on the east coast main line next year. The fleet of 65 trains will provide an extra 12,200 seats, and faster journeys will make direct routes to new destinations such as London-Middlesbrough possible, as well as a big increase in through services from London to places such as Bradford, Harrogate and Lincoln.
David Horne, Managing Director of Virgin Trains on the east coast, said: “We are very excited to be moving closer to the day when our fantastic new train comes into service. The arrival of Azuma in 2018 will mark another milestone on our journey towards totally transforming travel for our customers, and the work happening now in Kasado and beginning in the summer at Newton Aycliffe are important steps on that journey.”
Karen Boswell, Managing Director at Hitachi Rail Europe, said: “The new Azuma fleet will be a combination of Japanese design and British manufacturing. The trains are built using Japanese bullet train technology, world famous for its quality and reliability. We are proud that our Newton Aycliffe team, based a short distance from the East Coast main line, will work on pioneering trains used by millions of passengers”
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About Virgin Trains:
Stagecoach and Virgin are working in partnership to operate the East Coast and West Coast inter-city routes under the Virgin Trains brand. Together, they are on track to revolutionise rail travel across the UK.
The combined network connects some of the nation’s most iconic destinations including Glasgow, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, York and London.
Virgin Trains is committed to delivering a high speed, high frequency service, offering shorter journey times, more comfortable travel and excellent customer service. Customers consistently rate Virgin Trains as one of the top long-distance rail franchise operators in the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) commissioned by industry watchdog, Transport Focus.
On the East Coast route, £140m is being invested to create a more personalised travel experience. We have already invested £21m to completely revamp our existing fleet and customers can now benefit from 42 additional services (22,000 extra seats) per week between Edinburgh and London. 2018 will see the introduction of completely new Azuma trains being built in the UK by Hitachi.
The West Coast route has a proud record of challenging the status quo - from introducing tilting Pendolino trains, to a pioneering automated delay repay scheme and becoming the first franchised rail operator to offer m-Tickets for all ticket types.
Press Office: 0845 000 3333.