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"This is a hugely important moment for passengers on the East Coast. Our new fleet of Azumas will … propel one of the UK's most prestigious lines into the 21st century." – Sir Richard Branson.
With quick acceleration, fast journey times and better comfort, Hitachi's brand new, highly advanced Azuma trains will service the UK's East Coast from 2018. The 65 trains will provide an extra 12,200 seats, and with an expanded timetable, they will increase capacity into London's King's Cross station by 28 percent during peak times. They will be operated by Virgin Trains and will be called Virgin Azuma. Literally translated as “East” in Japanese, Azuma are state-of-the-art Intercity Express trains that will transform rail travel for passengers between London, northeast England and Scotland. Among the trains' many benefits are lower emissions, more direct services, greater comfort, fast and free Wi-Fi, and of course, faster journey times.
The Azuma trains are being made at Hitachi's rail vehicle manufacturing plant in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, in England. Hitachi has a long history of producing top quality, high-speed trains, starting with Japan's Bullet Train in 1964. According to Karen Boswell, Managing Director of Hitachi Rail Europe, the Azuma trains will transform the journey experience for tens of thousands of customers. Says Boswell, “We are doubly proud that these new trains for the East Coast are being manufactured right here in the UK, creating some 730 new long-term jobs, engineering careers and apprenticeships.” The new trains will reach speeds of 125mph in around 4 minutes 40 seconds, compared to the current time of about 5 minutes 40 seconds (for the electric-powered trains). Another way the Azuma trains will make travel easier for passengers is via their traffic-light reservation system for seats: a red light means the seat is reserved; amber means the seat has been reserved somewhere along the journey; and if the light is green, the seat is free through to the train's final destination.
Hitachi is proud to have welcomed UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Japan PM Shinzo Abe to our North Pole Maintenance Centre on 5th May EST.