London North Eastern Railway (LNER) has announced that its new high-speed Azuma trains will serve the route connecting Edinburgh, North East England and London King’s Cross from August 1.
The first “Flying Scotsman service” will depart Edinburgh Waverley at 0540, calling at Newcastle at 0705 and arriving at London King’s Cross at 0940.
The inaugural northbound London to Edinburgh service will depart King’s Cross at 1730. The route between the English and Scottish capitals runs for 393 miles.
LNER is taking delivery of 65 of the Hitachi-designed, Durham-built trains over the next year. They will replace its current fleet and increase its size by 20 trains.
The first trains went into service on London King’s Cross to Leeds and Hull earlier this month.
The new trains feature a cafe/bar called ‘Let’s Eat’, in-seat power sockets, a traffic light seat reservation and bigger digital displays to help passengers find their carriage.
First Class passengers get larger tables and reclining seats, USB and plug sockets and a complimentary breakfast or two-course meal service as well as refreshments. See the menu here.
LNER said its website will highlight which services are operated by the new trains so customers are aware when they book.
The trains were initially intended to be in service by December 2018, and on the Edinburgh route by March 2019.
Though the new trains will not yet mean a faster service, a new timetable is due to come into effect on December 2021, which LNER said would mean more regular journeys between London and Edinburgh which take four hours.
In the meantime, LNER plans to add services to destinations including Lincoln (September 2019), Harrogate (December 2019) and Bradford (May 2020).
The Azumas also have an additional 100 seats per train, which LNER’s Director of Safety and Operations, Warrick Dent, said could help ease overcrowding.
“It will address the capacity constraint that we’ve historically suffered from,” Dent told Business Traveller.
On today’s announcement, David Horne, Managing Director of LNER, said: “The launch of the first Azuma trains to and from Edinburgh and the north east of England is a pivotal moment for LNER in demonstrating the transformation of services for our customers and communities that we serve.
“Establishing new standards in rail travel is part of our DNA, and the new Azuma trains are already making the customer experience better than ever. They will transform travel for customers with improved reliability, greater levels of comfort and an average of 100 more seats on every train compared to the current fleet.”
LNER took over the East Coast Mainline last summer after Virgin Trains East Coast was stripped of its contract. It is owned by the UK’s Department for Transportation, which is investing £5.7 billion into a long-standing project called the Intercity Express Programme, intended to improve services between key hubs.