Set to transform cross-border services, Azuma train debuts in Highlands

Posted: 20 December 2017 | | No comments yet

Virgin Azuma is expected to innovate cross-border services for five of Scotland’s cities, bringing comfort and luxury for travelling passengers…

Virgin's Azuma Train

Virgin’s state-of-the-art Azuma train has made its opening visit to the Highlands as preparations to transform cross-border rail services quicken. The train, which takes its name from the Japanese word for ‘east’, will be on Virgin Trains’ East Coast from 2018, ushering in a new era of comfort and style for rail passengers.

Virgin’s train journeyed a test route from north of Edinburgh to Inverness, before travelling back to a depot in Doncaster. The test run by manufacturer Hitachi is part of a programme to prepare Scotland for the 65-strong Azuma fleet. Part of a two year programme, the first will enter service in December 2018, with Azuma services due to operate from five of Scotland’s seven cities in 2019.

“We want to put passengers at the heart of everything we do and the £5.7 billion government-led investment in a new fleet of state-of-the-art intercity trains is an important step in achieving that,” said Paul Maynard, UK Government Rail Minister. “This test run is a key milestone in the introduction of the fleet on the East Coast Main Line and it will mean more space, more comfort and more reliability for passengers up and down the country.”

The Azuma is set to be one of the most advanced passenger trains on the UK rail network, able to accelerate faster than existing trains and provide more comfort and space inside. Hitachi has invested £18 million to modernise depots at Aberdeen, Inverness and Edinburgh to ensure they are able to service the new fleet, securing long-term engineering jobs at all three locations.

Hitachi is building the new trains at their factory in the North East of England (Newton Aycliffe, County Durham), home to 1000 train builders.

“Azuma will bring a new era of style in long distance rail travel,” added David Horne, Virgin Trains Managing Director. “We are excited to see preparations gather pace that will help transform services for passengers across Scotland.”