Rail franchises operators & contracts

11.03.19

LNER trains for ECML given approval to enter passenger services

New LNER rolling stock for the East Coast Main Line (ECML) has received approval for its Class 800 Azuma trains to enter passenger service.

The ORR has authorised the operation of the Class 800/1 nine-car trainsets and the Class 800/2 five-car bi-mode units, which were originally due to enter service in 2018.

LNER announced its new fleet of Azuma trains wouldn’t be coming on time last year due to the ORR suspending the approval of several of the operator’s electrical units due to safety issues.

Concerns had been raised over the inter-vehicle jumper cables which could be used by passengers to reach roof-mounted high-voltage equipment, as well as concerns over the use of automatic selective doors opening on the ECML.

The ORR said the manufacturer, Hitachi Rail, and LNER need to reach an agreement on minimising these risks before either trainsets are placed into service, subject to the completion of final testing.

The trains are expected to enter service between London Kings Cross, Leeds and Hull, and final testing is currently underway.

In September last year, reports surfaced that plans to introduce the new Class 800/8001 Azuma trains had been slowed due to trackside equipment faults.

The operator said then it was still working towards introducing them into service by the end of the year as originally planned.

Network Rail said in a statement that electromagnet emissions from the new Hitachi trains were interfering with existing safety critical systems, and the safety issues would mean that the bi-mode trains could only run on diesel.

In October, Baroness Liz Sugg of the DfT said she was “not able to give a definite date” on the rollout as there remain challenges relating to the electromagnetic capability, and could not guarantee services would run from Lincoln to London by May this year.

Image credit - David Parry/PA Wire/PA Images

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