Two brand new Hitachi test trains arrived at Teesport in Middlesbrough today (Tuesday March 20) after completing a two-month journey from Japan.
The two five-car trains will form part of Virgin Trains’ new Azuma fleet and will be the first used for training on-board crew and drivers.
Virgin Azuma trains will transform travel and customer experiences when they arrive on the East Coast Main Line from December this year.
The fleet of 65 trains will provide an extra 12,200 seats, offer the potential to enable faster journeys and support a big increase in through services from London to places such as Bradford, Harrogate and Lincoln.
Customers can expect more comfortable journeys with increased legroom, additional luggage space and faster Wi-Fi.
Virgin Trains staff will soon get a hands-on experience of using new Azuma trains. The two new Azuma trains which arrived at Teesport today will be used to teach on-board crew and drivers how to operate the trains when passenger services start later this year.
Virgin Trains have already begun driver training using Azuma simulators at King’s Cross, Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh stations.
Hitachi, the builder and maintainer of the new Azuma fleet, now have five Azuma trains for testing.
Passengers have already been catching glimpses of the new trains as Hitachi steps up its rigorous test programme.
Hitachi’s UK factory on Aycliffe Business Park in Newton Aycliffe will begin building Azuma trains this summer.
The factory, situated a short distance from the East Coast Main Line, is home to 1,000 employees, including 50 apprentices.
Hitachi has also built a new £80million train depot in Doncaster to maintain the new fleet.
Hitachi programme director Andy Rogers said: “We are proud to be building a fleet inspired by Japanese bullet-train technology here in the UK.
“Our comprehensive test programme is making great progress with the new trains performing very well on the East Coast main line.”
Aileen Jordan, Azuma director at Virgin Trains on the east coast, said: “We’re excited to have reached yet another milestone with the arrival of these two trains and with them, the opportunity for our drivers and onboard crews to use these for training ahead of Azuma coming into service from later this year.”