Azuma trainsets will operate on LNER’s London King’s Cross-Inverness service from December 9.

It was widely expected LNER’s Azumas trainsets would operate the Highland route to Inverness some time this month, and now the actual date has been confirmed by local media.

Because the mainlines north of Edinburgh are not electrified, the Inverness service will, like Aberdeen, be operated by a bi-mode (electric/diesel power) trainset.

News of the Inverness Azuma launch follows hard on the heels of Aberdeen last month.

Currently LNER operates a single daily through service between King’s Cross and Inverness and this will remain when the Azuma is deployed.

Journey time is around eight hours and schedules are:

  • departs King’s Cross at 1200, arrives into Inverness at 2005
  • departs Inverness at 0755, arrives into King’s Cross at 1549

At other times travellers change at Edinburgh and take Scotrail onwards to Inverness.

I realise that few business travellers would want to spend eight hours on a train.

The benefit of rail over such a long distance is that it allows travellers to embark/disembark at intermediate stops – for example, York to Gleneagles or Inverness, Newcastle to Perth or Inverness and so on. Such journeys cannot easily be accomplished by air.

The Azuma trains will replace LNER’s 40-year old diesel trains, some of which will be transferred to East Midlands Railway.