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New Hitachi Azuma parked by Stephenson’s Rocket in rare sneak peek

Those visiting the Great Exhibition of the North in Newcastle will have the rare chance to see Hitachi’s brand-new Azuma train from up close before the new fleet starts carrying East Coast passengers later this year.

The front carriage of a new train – already embellished with the new London North Eastern Railway (LNER) livery – has arrived at the city’s Discovery Museum, where it will be parked until 2 July alongside Stephenson’s Newcastle-built Rocket locomotive.

The Azumas, which in March arrived in Edinburgh for driver training, are being built at the Japanese giant’s Newton Aycliffe factory in County Durham. It will begin welcoming passengers later this year along the East Coast Main Line, connecting the north east to both Scotland and London.

Services will be operated by the brand-new LNER brand, which will take over from the current Virgin Trains East Coast operation this weekend after the government decided to strip the TOC of its franchise last month.

Hitachi designed the new trains using its unique bullet technology, with the front of the train boasting a sleek aerodynamic design. Passengers will also benefit from their faster acceleration rates.

309 GEON design

The brand-new train will provide a stark contrast to Stephenson’s rocket locomotive, which arrived at the museum last week. Originally built in 1829, this is the first time the loco has returned to its birthplace since it was rolled out over 150 years ago.

Visitors will have the unique opportunity to compare and contrast the old with the new as the two north east-built trains sit side-by-side in celebration of the railway’s heritage, and in recognition of the exciting years ahead.

Karen Boswell, Hitachi Rail Europe’s managing director, said this was a “symbolic moment” which celebrates a new chapter in the north east’s “proud railway history.”

The manager of the Discovery Museum, Carolyn Ball, added that the north’s world-famous “industrial heritage and innovative spirit” is still thriving today “thanks to north east companies like Hitachi.”

The Great Exhibition of the North is an 80-day event which kicks off today and runs until 9 September in celebration of the art, culture, design and innovation achievements from across the region.


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