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Stevenage station platform work ahead of Azuma trains to begin next week

Work will soon begin on extending the platform at Stevenage station to allow all the carriages of Virgin’s new Azuma trains to fit into the station.

The £800,000 project is planned to begin on 20 March and is scheduled to be completed on 15 June, but should not cause any disruption to passenger journeys throughout that time.

Stevenage’s platform extension follows two other projects that Network Rail is working on in Durham and Northallerton to accommodate for Virgin’s new fleet of Azuma trains – which will be the fastest the company has ever used on Britain’s railway network.

Aidan Talbott, principal programme sponsor for Network Rail, said: “The work we are carrying out at Stevenage station is an important part of our Railway Upgrade Plan and will allow all carriages of the new Azuma trains to fit into the station.

“It is a vital piece of enhancement work to the railway and will bring even greater benefits for passengers travelling on the East Coast Main Line. I’d like to thank passengers for their patience whilst this work is carried out.”

A spokesperson for Virgin Trains commented: “Our Virgin Azuma trains, which will be introduced from next year, will help us to transform the customer experience, creating more capacity, and faster and more comfortable journeys on our east coast route.”

The trains are capable of reaching speeds of 125mph in around four-and-a-half minutes, faster than Virgin’s electric trains – which can reach that speed in five minutes and 10 seconds – and the diesel fleet, which can do it in seven minutes.

Virgin is also investigating the possibility of the East Coast route enabling the operation to go to 140mph.

The Azumas are hoped to shave around 22 minutes off journeys, reduce the London-Edinburgh journey down to four hours and make the journey between the capital and Leeds only two hours.

Additionally, the new carriages promise customers a more comfortable ride and additional 12,200 seats, increasing capacity into King’s Cross by 28%.

Hitachi is in the process of building the 65-strong fleet at its facility in Newton Aycliffe.

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Andrew Gwilt   16/03/2017 at 08:55

So not just Durham that is having the platform extensions for the Azuma VTEC trains but also Stevenage will also have platform extensions for the Azuma trains.

Andrew JG   17/03/2017 at 00:43

What about stations north of London Kings Cross including Grantham, Retford, Newark Northgate and few other stations north of York (as well Durham and Northallerton stations as been mentioned are planned to have platform extensions), that could or will have platform extensions to accommodate the VTEC Azuma Class 800 and Class 801 AT300 fleets. Peterborough, Doncaster, York, Newcastle Central and Edinburgh Waverley as well Edinburgh Haymarket have already been refurbished and revamped with longer platforms to accommodate longer trains (10-car, 11-car and 12-car trains).

Jerry Alderson   17/03/2017 at 16:14

The disappointing news is that while Network Rail can find resource to extend the platforms at Stevenage station, it cannot build the new platform 5 that is necessary to allow Hertford Loop trains to stop there. In order to run more trains GTR will terminate trains at Watton-at-Stone and put people on buses to Stevenage indefinitely! Bustitution is a severe embarrassment for the railway. It's not as if a platform 5 (on the western side) is mega-difficult, especially if they went for the cheap option of making those trains share the down slow (rather than a new line splitting as trains exit the dive under) to access it.

Nickk   17/03/2017 at 17:13

The Hertford North problem is not only the timetabled dwell of 6 minutes on the slow Down platform, it's also the reverse running back to the dive-under junction which kills the northbound use for a significant extra time. Would it not be cheaper to move the junction north to just outside the station, and hold terminating trains until the last possible moment, leaving just long enough for the crew to swap ends for departure. I can't imagine they would need a rest break on such a short journey, and I know a passenger would prefer this compromise to a slow bus!

Mark Hare   21/03/2017 at 13:30

@Andrew Gwilt - as you're doing your usual thing of taking facts from the article and pointlessly repeating them, you forgot to add 'Northallerton' in your statement.

Andrew Gwilt   22/03/2017 at 12:43

Thanks Mark Hare. Ffs.

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