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Youngsters imagine the Train of the Future

Press release   •   Jul 12, 2016 08:00 BST

Six children from across the UK were selected as winners of the Virgin Trains #Azuma4kids competition.
  • Six winning ideas to inspire future developments of the new Azuma train
  • Ideas include personalised pods, solar powered propulsion and pets’ pads

Private pet carriages and solar powered propulsion are amongst the inventive ideas that children have designed into their ultimate train of the future. Asked by Virgin Trains to imagine what trains would be like in decades to come, kids came up with personal pods, transparent walls and mini-golf compartments. Now, the train operator is set to use some of these designs to inspire the development of its Azuma trains, coming to the east coast in 2018.

Set to revolutionise travel on the east coast, the Azuma will be one of the most advanced trains on the UK’s rail network, and will embody the customer-centric approach which Virgin Trains is famous for. With 65 trains providing an extra 12,200 seats for a new and expanded timetable, the fleet of Azumas will increase capacity into King’s Cross by 28 per cent during peak time.

Virgin Trains called on the creative minds of youngsters, and selected six ideas from a raft of drawings and sketches sent in by children. From imagination to interpretation, the six ideas were then developed into full concept images, with the winning designs combining practicality with entertainment, and visionary thinking with environmental considerations.

Amongst the features children chose for their future trains were floor to ceiling clear walls for optimal viewing (Luqman Hussain, 13), double decker layout to maximise capacity (William Rogers, 9), minimal wheel-track contact for smooth motion (Isabelle Carroll, 10), a revolutionary pod system to minimise dwell-time (Dawn Graham, 10), 20-plus-seater business booths for meetings on the move (Kaden Allen, 10), and fully digitised carriages for at-your-fingertips service (Elliott Crofts, 9).

David Horne, Managing Director of Virgin Trains on the East Coast, said: “The Virgin Azuma is set to be the most state of the art train on the network when it arrives in 2018 so what better way to celebrate this than to work with our younger customers to find out what they would like to see on our exciting new trains. Their ideas have given us a refreshing outlook on what the future could hold and will help us towards our goal of revolutionising every element of our customers’ experiences.”

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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