David Cameron sees the new Virgin train – coming to East Coast in 2018
The UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, has seen for himself the Virgin Azuma, the new train which will revolutionise services on the East Coast. The train is the first to be shown in a Virgin livery and was unveiled at King’s Cross by Richard Branson in March.
David Cameron was visiting Hitachi Rail Europe’s ‘North Pole’ train maintenance depot in West London. He was accompanied by the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr Shinzo Abe.
Last September David Cameron officially opened Hitachi Rail Europe’s Rail Vehicle Manufacturing Facility in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, where the Azuma trains will be manufactured.
David Horne, Managing Director of Virgin Trains on the East Coast was at the event and commented, “The visit was a terrific chance to give the Prime Minister a taste of what is to come on the East Coast under Virgin Trains. We’re already investing tens of millions of pounds in new interiors and engines for our current fleet and are shortly going to introduce improvements to our on-board catering as well as launch additional Edinburgh-London services. The Azuma represents the next step – a completely new fleet which will revolutionise East Coast travel in 2018.”
Literally translated as “East” in Japanese, the Virgin Azuma pays homage to the new train’s lineage and to the East Coast route – a vital transport artery connecting Yorkshire and the North East with London and Scotland. Together with the West Coast franchise, it means Virgin Trains is in prime position to support the development of the Northern Powerhouse. With 65 trains providing an extra 12,200 seats for a new and expanded timetable, the fleet of Virgin Azumas will increase capacity into King’s Cross by 28 per cent during peak time.
Whilst the trains will initially reach speeds of up to 125mph, Virgin Trains has already 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.
The new trains will also have:
1) Azumas will reach 125mph in around 4 and a half minutes, compared with around 5 minutes 10 seconds for our current electric-powered trains and nearly 7 minutes for our current diesel-powered trains.
2) Traffic light reservation system: If the indicator is red, the seat is reserved. If the indicator is amber, the seat is currently available but has been reserved from a station later in the journey. If the indicator is green, the seat is available through to the train’s final destination.
The train that was visited by the Prime Ministers is a test train which has measuring equipment on board rather than seats. An artist’s impression of what passengers might expect on board the new trains is available on the Virgin Trains media site.
Virgin Trains highlighted improvements for the East Coast:
About Virgin Trains
Stagecoach and Virgin are working in partnership to operate the East Coast and West Coast inter-city routes under the Virgin Trains brand. Together, they are on track to revolutionise rail travel across the UK.
The combined network connects some of the nation’s most iconic destinations including Glasgow, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, York and London.
Virgin Trains is committed to delivering a high speed, high frequency service, offering shorter journey times, more comfortable travel and excellent customer service. Customers consistently rate Virgin Trains as one of the top long-distance rail franchise operators in the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) commissioned by industry watchdog, Transport Focus.
On the East Coast route, £140m is being invested to create a more personalised travel experience. This includes a major fleet revamp, smarter stations and exciting new routes. From May 2016, there will be 42 additional services (22,000 extra seats) per week between Edinburgh and London. 2018 will see the introduction of completely new Azuma trains being built in the UK by Hitachi.
The West Coast route has a proud record of challenging the status quo - from introducing tilting Pendolino trains, to a pioneering automated delay repay scheme and becoming the first franchised rail operator to offer m-Tickets for all ticket types.
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