Posted 5th May 2017 | 3 Comments

Work starts on building new East Coast IE trains

WORK has started in Japan building the body shells for Intercity Expresses destined for the East Coast Main Line.

The 65 sets, specified and ordered by the Department for Transport, are due to come into service with Virgin Trains East Coast from next year, and the main assembly of the new trains will be carried out at Newton Aycliffe in County Durham.

A prototype set was run into London King’s Cross in March last year, when it was announced that the East Coast IE fleet will be branded ‘Azuma’, which is Japanese for ‘east’.

Virgin Trains East Coast managing director David Horne said: “We are very excited to be moving closer to the day when our fantastic new train comes into service.

“The arrival of Azuma in 2018 will mark another milestone on our journey towards totally transforming travel for our customers, and the work happening now in Kasado and beginning in the summer at Newton Aycliffe are important steps on that journey.”

The VTEC network will also grow next year, with new routes being added to Huddersfield and Middlesbrough, while existing services should be quicker, because the IE fleet has better acceleration.

Hitachi Rail Europe managing director Karen Boswell said: "The new Azuma fleet will be a combination of Japanese design and British manufacturing.

“The trains are built using Japanese bullet train technology, world famous for its quality and reliability. We are proud that our Newton Aycliffe team, based a short distance from the East Coast Main Line, will work on pioneering trains used by millions of passengers.”

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • david c smith, Bletchley

    My understanding is that the class91 / mk4 trainsets are capable of 140mph, but have been limited to 125 mph on ECML due to the limitations of the signalling system. Likewise with the Pendolino's on WCML.

    Are the new Azuma's similar in this respect , or is 125mph the actual maximum for the trains rather than of the infrastructure ?

    [The electric and bi-mode Intercity Expresses running under electric power can reach 200km/h (and 225km/h with modifications,) but a bi-mode running under diesel power is restricted to 160km/h. You are right that it is signalling and other infrastructure which limits present and future rolling stock to 200km/h on both the ECML and WCML, at least for now. There has been some discussion of allowing 390s to reach 217km/h (135mph) on certain WCML sections, such as the Trent Valley, but nothing has come of this yet. True 225km/h running may be possible, at least on the ECML, with ERTMS/ETCS.--Editor.]

  • Paul H, North Wales

    Garth the Azuma's are 125mph on electric power as per the GW sets.
    As virtually non electric running for ECML services are not on 125 enabled lines the lack of speed isn't an issue in diesel mode.

  • Garth, Dunkeld

    "... existing services should be quicker, because the IE fleet has better acceleration." That does not follow, since the new trains are slower. Faster acceleration does not make up for a slower maximum speed. That is why Great Western services are likely to be slower overall due to insufficient electrification, by all accounts. The laws of physics cannot be bypassed.
    [On the GWML, with its fully bimodal fleet, yes. Virgin EC says that journey times will be shorter on the ECML.--Editor.]

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