Journey times between Nottinghamshire and London could be slashed after new trains were unveiled.
Virgin Trains unveiled the first of its new fleet of trains for the East Coast Main Line – which links London and Edinburgh, via Nottinghamshire * – in a London ceremony.
Set to revolutionise travel on the East Coast from 2018, the Virgin Azuma will be one of the most advanced trains on the UK’s rail network.
While the trains will initially reach speeds of up to 125mph, Virgin Trains has announced the creation of a cross-industry working group, including Network Rail, to investigate the potential for the East Coast route to enable their operation at 140mph.
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, said, “This is a hugely important moment for passengers on the East Coast.
“A line which has witnessed the historic Flying Scotsman and Mallard will now see passenger services transformed with the UK’s most advanced long-distance trains.
“Our customers on the West Coast have already seen what Virgin can bring to train travel and how the Pendolinos have made a huge difference to speed and comfort. Our new fleet of Azumas will bring a similar transformation to the East Coast, and propel one of the UK’s most prestigious lines into the 21st century.”
Literally translated as “East” in Japanese, the 65 new Virgin Azuma trains – being built by Hitachi in County Durham – will provide an extra 12,200 seats for a new and expanded timetable.
David Horne, managing director of Virgin Trains on the East Coast, said, “Since Virgin Trains launched services on the East Coast in 2015 we have committed more than £40 millionto improving our existing fleet for passengers.
“As part of this we’re bringing in new interiors with new seats in both first and standard, new carpets and mood-lighting – a first for trains in the UK.
This is a hugely important moment for passengers on the East Coast.Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group founder
“I’m delighted that now we have been able to showcase how that transformation will continue.”
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, said: “The state-of-the-art Intercity Express trains heading to Virgin will transform rail travel for passengers between London, the north east and Scotland.
“These new trains, combined with Virgin’s exciting plans for the franchise, will provide more services, more seats, and faster journeys, helping to place passengers at the heart of the railway.”
The Azumas offer:
* Faster acceleration: The Azumas will accelerate more quickly, slicing up to 22 minutes off East Coast journeys and making four-hour London-Edinburgh journeys, and two-hourLondon-Leeds journeys, the norm. They will accelerate from 0-125mph about a minute quicker than the current fleet;
* New direct services: The faster journeys will make direct routes to new destinations such as Middlesbrough possible, as well as a big increase in through services to places such as Lincoln;
* Greater comfort: The trains will have some of the best leg-room on the rail network, as well as ergonomically designed seats in both first and standard;
* Lower emissions: The trains will be lighter and more energy efficient, making them some of the most environmentally friendly in the UK;
* Improved facilities: The trains will have faster and free Wi-Fi, an improved traffic-light reservation system, power sockets for every seat and more overhead luggage space;
* Buffet cars: An onboard shop is a key part of the experience for passengers.