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Virgin Azuma crosses Scottish border for first time in test run

Virgin’s Class 800 Azuma trains have this week made the journey beyond the Scottish border for the first time.

The inaugural run north of the border between London and Edinburgh was done as part of a testing programme by Hitachi, who are delivering the new rolling stock in preparation for the 65-strong fleet being rolled out on the east coast route next year.

It is hoped that the new trains will shorten the journey between London and Edinburgh by 22 minutes, bringing regular journey times down to just four hours.

The Azuma boasts better acceleration than its predecessor and will also improve capacity out of King’s Cross by 28% at peak times.

The rolling stock being tested this week was a nine-car bi-mode train capable of travelling on both diesel and electric power.

At approximately midday on Tuesday, the Azuma travelled north of Newcastle, over the iconic Royal Border Bridge in Berwick-upon-Tweed, before crossing the Scottish border at 12.45.

The run was welcomed by Scottish transport minister Humza Yousaf, who said that making rail an attractive alternative was an ideal way to encourage more people out of their cars and onto greener transport.

“That is why it’s great to see Virgin’s first cross-border Azuma fleet in Scotland as part of their testing programme which is building towards service introduction next year,” he explained. “This new fleet of trains serving stations all across the north and east of the country offer more opportunities for passengers to travel by rail in the future.”

David Horne, Virgin Trains’ managing director on the east coast route, commented: “The Virgin Azuma will deliver a step-change in services between Scotland and England, taking regular journeys down to just four hours.

“Having the train visit Scotland for the first time as part of testing is a really important moment and reminds us of the excitement it will bring to UK train travel when it is introduced into service.”

And Karen Boswell, managing director at Hitachi Rail Europe, stated that passengers and enthusiasts in Scotland will “be seeing more of the Azuma trains in the coming months as part of our rigorous test programme”.

“Our UK-built fleet harnesses world famous Japanese bullet train technology, giving passengers on the east coast main line the very best in quality and reliability,” she added.

Top Image: Virgin Azuma crosses Royal Border Bridge at Berwick upon Tweed

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Android   17/08/2017 at 16:30

Surely this is a Dft train as taxpayers are funding it over 27.5 years with Virgin leasing it from them? You can always tell its Virgin by the absolutely ridiculous names they dream up!

Andrew Gwilt   17/08/2017 at 23:01

Out with the old. And in with the new. Yp the East Coast Main Line will be seeing more of these new Class 800's and Class 801's IET fleets that will be replacing the Class 43's HST's and Class 91's Mk4 locomotives. And Class 802's also to operate on the ECML as Hull Trains will be getting them to replace the Class 180's. Plus the Class 800's, Class 801's and Class 802's IET's will be replacing the Class 43's HST's on the Great Western Main Line and other routes from later this year and next year.

Gabriel Oaks   21/08/2017 at 07:21

Azuma has taken its name from the Japanese word for East, apparently in tribute to the technology used and the route it will operate on.

Simon Eames1990   22/08/2017 at 21:51

As I live near the ECML I'm looking forward to the Azumas. I will miss the HSTs and the Intercity 225s as I grew up with them in the GNER era. Hull trains will be getting bi-modal Class 802s but Grand Central should order bi-modes as the 180s have a seating capacity of 287 but a 5 car Class 802 will have at least 327.

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