Akiem and Bombardier sign contracts to supply a total of 33 TRAXX locomotives

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  • Orders include TRAXX AC3, DC3 and MS2 locomotives
  • Designed for operation under Europe’s main voltages, the locomotives offer Akiem and its customers more flexibility and efficiency

Rolling stock leasing company Akiem and mobility technology leader Bombardier Transportation have signed two contracts under frame contracts to deliver a total of 33 BOMBARDIER TRAXX locomotives. Based on their list price, the two firm orders are valued at a combined total of €112 million ($128 million US). Scheduled for delivery between 2019 and 2021 at the latest, the 33 TRAXXlocomotives will consist of a mix of TRAXX MS 2 (multi-system), TRAXX AC 3 (alternating current) and TRAXX DC3 (direct current) locomotives.

Fabien Rochefort, CEO of Akiem Group, said, “This additional batch of 33 TRAXX locomotives meets our customers’ demand across Europe. With a fleet of 180 TRAXX by 2020, we are strengthening our ability to deliver reliable, efficient, safe and cost-effective traction services expected by both passenger and freight operators. This fruitful partnership with Bombardier Transportation enables Akiem Group industrial teams to design and deliver tailor-made services and maintenance solutions across Europe. We are making our Group a major long-term, reliable partner and added value provider for the railway transport industry in Europe.”

Peter Ammann, Head of Ecosystem Freight Corridors, Bombardier Transportation, added, “We are very pleased to have received these additional locomotive orders from Akiem, further strengthening our partnership with this important customer. We introduced our versatile TRAXX locomotives platform 18 years ago and since then have continuously innovated and improved its features. With over 2,200 units sold, the platform has demonstrated its success. With these recent orders, Akiem will own a fleet of 180 TRAXX locomotives; the customer continues to benefit from this mixture of performance, experience and permanent evolution.”

The BOMBARDIER TRAXX 3 platform is the most modern four-axle locomotive platform in Europe. Its three models, TRAXXAC3, TRAXX MS3 and TRAXX DC3, all offer optional Last Mile function, a support diesel engine which bridges non-electrified sections.

The TRAXX MS locomotive plays a crucial role in the development of economies in Europe. Designed to operate on Europe’s four main rail supply voltages – 15 kV and 25 kV AC as well as 1.5 and 3 kV DC – it offers the necessary flexibility and interoperability to manage international rail transport across the continent.

Increase in international rail freight transport – Statistics Netherlands (CBS)

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In 2017, more than 41 million tonnes of goods in total were transported by rail from, to and within the Netherlands. Over 93 percent of this volume was loaded and/or unloaded abroad. This means that the share of international transport has increased further. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on newly released figures.

Between 2007 and 2017, total rail freight transport rose by 0.5 million tonnes to 41.2 million tonnes. This is an increase of 1.2 percent, which can be attributed to the growth of international goods transport (from 35 to 38 million tonnes). In the same period, domestic rail freight transport dropped from over 5.5 million tonnes in 2007 to more than 2.7 million tonnes in 2017. The share of international rail freight transport increased from 86 to 93 percent over the same period.

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Shift in rail transport flows

The increase in rail transport is caused by higher volumes of both transit and inbound freight of foreign origin. Transit goods are transported by rail within the Netherlands but have their place of loading and unloading abroad. The share of transit trade doubled from 4 percent in 2007 to 8 percent in 2017. In the same period, the share of inbound transport went up from 22 to 25 percent. The total volume of goods transported from the Netherlands to other countries has hardly changed; from 24.7 million tonnes in 2007 to 24.9 million tonnes last year.

Germany main transport partner

The largest trading partner in terms of both inbound and outbound rail freight transport is Germany. Over 74 percent of outgoing freight is destined for Germany and 49 percent of incoming goods are loaded there. This share has also increased over the past decade. Italy, Belgium, Austria and Poland follow at a great distance. Poland has become increasingly important with regard to inbound rail freight transport; the share of goods loaded in this country rose from over 1 percent in 2007 to 6 percent in 2017. There are mainly incoming shipments of container goods and grain from Poland.

Bombardier Wins Contract to Provide 396 MOVIA Metro Cars for Singapore’s North-South and East-West Lines

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  • New order of 396 metro cars bring the number of MOVIA vehicles in Singapore to 672, making it one of Bombardier’s largest metro fleet in the world
  • The two high-capacity Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) lines total 102 km and serve 61 stations with an average daily combined ridership of 1.8 million 

Rail technology leader Bombardier Transportation today announced that it has signed a contract with Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA). The contract’s scope covers the supply of 396 BOMBARDIER MOVIA metro cars for passenger services on the high-capacity North-South (NSL) and East-West (EWL) Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) lines. The contract is valued at approximately 827 million SGD ($607 million US, 519 million euro). The contract includes an option for long-term service support, and if exercised by SMRT Corporation Ltd, the total contract could be worth up to 1.2 billion SGD ($881 million US, 753 million euro).

Commenting on the award, Laurent Troger, President of Bombardier Transportation, said, “The proven MOVIA metro is a world leading high-performing mobility solution designed to improve public transport reliability in densely populated and fast-growing cities. For more than 20 years, Bombardier has been a strategic mobility partner to the Singapore Land Transport Authority, built on a strong track record of delivery performance, best-in-class rail technology and service excellence. Bombardier is proud to be a significant contributor to Singapore’s public transport network and to support LTA’s ambitious expansion plans to grow its rail network to 360 km by 2030.”

The modern MOVIA metro vehicles integrate some of the world’s most advanced mobility technologies including the BOMBARDIER MITRAC propulsion and control system that manages the flow of both onboard and subsystem information as well as data between the vehicle and the rail infrastructure. In its six-car configuration, the new order of 396 metro cars bring the number of MOVIA vehicles in Singapore to 672, making it one of Bombardier’s largest metro fleet in the world and provide a much-needed reliability improvement on two of LTA’s high-capacity lines. Combined, the two lines, running both above and underground, total 102 km in length and serve 61 stations, with an average daily combined ridership of more than 1.8 million.

Over the last 20 years in Singapore, Bombardier has delivered 276 driverless MOVIA metro cars for Singapore’s Downtown Line and 13 INNOVIA APM 100 automated people mover cars for the Bukit Panjang Light Rail Transit (LRT) system. Earlier this year, a new asset replacement contract was awarded to supply 19 new INNOVIA APM 300 cars, to retrofit 13 existing APM 100 cars, as well as to deliver a signalling system upgrade for 13 stops on the Bukit Panjang LRT Line.

Hitachi Rail Europe: Testing begins for TPE’s bullet train inspired fleet

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  • The first test run for TransPennine Express’s futuristic Nova 1 fleet took place between Doncaster and Darlington
  • 19 new five carriage trains harnessing Japanese bullet train technology are due to enter service in 2019
  • TransPennine Express is introducing three fleets of new trains. Together, these will provide 13 million more seats per year

Hitachi has begun testing TransPennine Express’ new Nova 1 fleet, with a successful run between Doncaster and Darlington.

People will be able to catch a glimpse of the trains on test in the lead up to entering passenger service next year.

In the coming months testing will span the entire route, calling at major stations across The North and Scotland. The train is currently using Hitachi’s new £80million depot in Doncaster.

The fleet is being built by Hitachi and financed by Angel Trains.

Modern trains connecting towns and cities across the North and into Scotland

From 2019 this fleet will connect major cities in the North of England and Scotland, running from Manchester and Liverpool, across the Pennines to cities such as Leeds, York, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

The trains will provide 161 additional seats compared to the existing ones on the busy intercity route. Customers will benefit from spacious carriages, providing extra legroom and additional luggage space and the experience on-board will be completely transformed.

Each new train will offer fast, free Wi-Fi in both Standard and First Class as well as complimentary on-board entertainment system, Exstream, allowing customers to stream the latest movies and TV shows during their journey.

Pioneering trains for the North

Hitachi is using its famous Japanese-bullet train technology to make the new Nova 1 fleet light and aerodynamic. The 19 trains will all be bi-modes, meaning they can switch seamlessly mid-journey between electric and diesel power. The trains, will be able to run in either five or ten carriage formation, capable of speeds of up to 140mph in electric mode and 125 mph using diesel engines.

By using modern MTU engines from Rolls-Royce, the trains will cut harmful emissions under diesel power by up to 90%.

The trains are fitted with the latest in-cab digital signalling technology ahead of the route becoming the first digitally controlled intercity line.*

Barry White, Chief Executive of Transport for the North said:

“We are delighted to welcome these exciting new trains into the North, among the first of many new trains that will change the lives of rail users throughout the region, as we begin a period of major and sustained investment in our transport infrastructure. The extra capacity these trains offer is much needed and the fact they are future-proofed with the latest technologies is further evidence of long-term thinking for a brighter future.”

Berry Sas, Projects Director for Hitachi Rail Europe said:

“Our modern intercity trains will be calling at all stations along the route ahead of carrying passengers next year. Passengers will instantly recognise our high-tech trains, sporting an aerodynamic design first pioneered in Japan”.

Notes 

The new fleet of Hitachi intercity trains (Class 802) were ordered by First Group for TransPennine Express in 2016.

The first train to begin testing is a five car (802201)

*The Department for Transport announcement regarding the route being digitally controlled can be found here

Brand new ScotRail and Hitachi electric trains start running this week

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The first of the class 385 Express trains will run on the Glasgow Queen Street-Edinburgh Waverley via Falkirk High route from Tuesday, 24 July. The remainder of the new class 385 trains for that route will be phased in over the course of the coming months, before the rollout is extended to other routes across the Central Belt.

The new Hitachi trains are part of ScotRail’s £475 million rolling stock investment, following the £858 million electrification of the line between Edinburgh and Glasgow by Network Rail Scotland.

Key elements of the overall investment programme include:

  • Significantly upgraded stations along the route, including the redevelopment of Glasgow Queen Street;
  • Electrification of the Central Belt, including the route between Glasgow/Edinburgh and Stirling/Dunblane/Alloa;
  • Extended platforms at Glasgow Queen Street and Edinburgh Waverley to accommodate longer trains.

ScotRail recently introduced class 365 ‘happy’ trains between Glasgow Queen Street and Edinburgh, which boosted capacity by more than 17,200 seats a day.

Karen Boswell, Managing Director of Hitachi Rail Europe, said:

“When passengers step on board this first train they’ll find it light, spacious and modern with loads of more seats – up to 130 extra compared to the existing diesel trains.

“And there is more to come. Our UK factory is working tirelessly to deliver the rest of the fleet, which will allow the current 51 minute journey time from Edinburgh and Glasgow to be cut by up to a fifth. Thanks to their high quality Japanese engineering these trains have the best 0-60mph acceleration of any in Scotland.”

ScotRail Alliance Managing Director Alex Hynes said:

“I am delighted that customers will be able to travel on our new Hitachi class 385 electric trains from next week. This is a significant moment as we work to build the best railway Scotland has ever had.

“The investment we are making will deliver faster journeys, more seats, and better services for our customers.”

Roy Brannen, Transport Scotland Chief Executive, said:

“It’s great to see the investment in the class 385 fleet come to fruition with their imminent entry into service. This is another example of partnership working to help make Scotland’s railway the best it has ever been.

“I am sure passengers using these trains will enjoy the extra capacity and improved facilities they will bring.”

Alstom to supply 54 additional Coradia Stream “Pop” regional trains to Trenitalia

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Alstom has been awarded four contracts totalling around €330 million by Trenitalia, the Italian national train operator, for the supply of 54 Coradia Stream regional trains. The trains are destined for the Italian regions of Abruzzo (4 trains), Liguria (15 trains), Marche (4 trains) and Veneto (31 trains) as part of the framework agreement signed in 2016 between Alstom and Trenitalia (1). The 54 additional trains add to the 47 trains already ordered by the Emilia Romagna region in 2016.

Alstom’s Coradia Stream for Trenitalia, dubbed “Pop” by the customer, is the latest generation of trains designed for regional and intercity lines. Coradia Stream is an Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) with maximum speed of 160 km/h in the regional version. The train ordered by Trenitalia can transport more than 300 passengers seated, offering easy accessibility thanks to its low floor. Designed to be eco-friendly, the train is 95% recyclable.

“We are very pleased that Trenitalia and Abruzzo, Liguria, Marche, Veneto have renewed their confidence in Alstom’s Coradia range of regional trains and we hope to get on board with other regions. The “Pop” is proving to be widely appreciated by local authorities and by passengers, who got a glimpse of it in full-scale mock-up form during a recent roadshow,” said Michele Viale, Managing Director Alstom in Italy.

Coradia Stream can be easily customised to different services. Interior layouts and seating arrangements can be modified, to provide for example, more seats for longer journeys, or fewer seats and more standing room for shorter trips. The cars’ interior layout can be adapted to seasons and specific needs: it is possible to add bicycle or ski racks, electric sockets, Wi-Fi connection, vending machines for drinks and snacks, multimedia areas, areas for working or relaxation. Aboard the Coradia Stream, comfort, space, and light are maximised by larger windows, while advanced services, such as infotainment, audio and video feeds and a live video surveillance system, ensure comfort and security.

The Coradia Stream “Pop” trains are manufactured by Alstom in Italy. Project development, most of the manufacturing and certification are performed at Alstom’s site in Savigliano, Cuneo. Design and manufacturing of the traction systems and auxiliary switches takes place at the Sesto San Giovanni plant (Milan), and the on-board signalling systems are delivered by the Bologna site.
(1) A frame agreement for the supply of 150 medium-capacity regional trains including a first firm order of 47 trains was signed in August 2016 between Alstom and Trenitalia.

YIT, Pöyry and VR Track signed an alliance contract on the development phase of the second part of the Tampere light rail project

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YIT, Pöyry Finland and VR Track have signed an alliance contract with the City of Tampere and Tampereen Raitiotie Oy on the development phase of the second part of the Tampere light rail project. The project will be performed using the alliance model, where YIT, Pöyry and VR Track provide the services ordered by the City of Tampere and Tampereen Raitiotie Oy. In the alliance model, the client, designers and contractors cooperate throughout the project.

The development phase is estimated to be completed by the end of 2020, and its cost estimate is EUR 2.9 million. In the development phase, the best possible solutions to support the construction of the rail line between Pyynikintori and Lentäväniemi are reviewed. The rail line will be designed and constructed in cooperation with the city’s residents, communities, companies and property owners. The order of the development phase was registered in the first quarter of 2018.

“The development of growing urban environments is strategically important to YIT. Regarding the implementation of projects, we want to be involved in the development of more cooperative implementation models. In the Tampere light rail project, both of these aspects are realised. The cooperation between the parties in the alliance in earlier phases of the project has already shown its capabilities, and it is great that we can continue this in the development phase of the western section as well,” says YIT Vice President Jarkko Salmenoja.

“The second part of the Tampere light rail project is an interesting and challenging urban light rail project, where the alliance can now take full advantage of the experiences of the first part. At Pöyry, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to offer our infrastructure expertise in the second part of this project as well,” says Mikko Inkala, Business Unit President at Pöyry in charge of infrastructure business in Northern Europe.

“VR Track is seeking growth in the light rail and urban environment sectors. We are very excited to be involved in the second part of the project that provides strong support for the development of the Tampere region. We have excellent resources to guarantee success, as our designers can take advantage of the experiences in the first phase and receive immediate feedback and development ideas from on-going construction projects,” say VR Track Vice President, Consulting, Harri Yli-Villamo and Vice President, Construction, Jouni Kekäle.

The preliminary schedule for the construction of second part of the light rail line is in 2021–2024. It will expand the rail network from the city centre to Lentäväniemi.

In the currently ongoing first part of the project, a 15 km rail line will be constructed from city centre to Hervanta and the Central Hospital, and a depot will be constructed in Hervanta.

New Intercity Express trains arrives in Inverness

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  • Next generation Intercity Express train arrives at Inverness depot for testing for the first time, ahead of trains carrying Scottish passengers later this year
  • Passengers will benefit from more reliable services with the introduction of modern trains and the £5 million invested by Hitachi Rail in the depot as part of the government-led Intercity Express Programme.
  • Modern trains will offer more seats, more legroom and better on-board technology, including fast Wi-Fi
  • Faster acceleration will reduce journey times to the rest of the UK

A new Intercity Express train has arrived in Inverness depot for the first time today, ahead of improving passenger journeys when they enter service later this year.

The Hitachi-built train, which will offer customers more seats, space and improved on-board technology, is doing test runs in Scotland and giving depot staff the chance to familiarise themselves with the train.

A £5 million investment has been made at Inverness depot, by Hitachi Rail through the government-led Intercity Express Programme, to allow the trains to be serviced and maintained using modern technology, this in turn will mean more reliable, delay-free journeys for passengers.

New fleet of Intercity Express trains in Scotland

The new train, which draws from world leading Japanese bullet train technology, is the first of a fleet of 65 Intercity Express trains that will run from Inverness and Aberdeen, via Edinburgh, to London.

The trains will offer customers far more seats – with up to 81 extra per train – as well as more legroom and space for luggage and bicycles.

Passengers will also benefit from new on-board technology, including faster Wi-Fi, and a traffic-light style seat reservation system.

In a first for a UK passengers, the Intercity Express trains , which are already in operation on the Great Western Mainline, are a hybrid. They can run on either electric or diesel power, meaning they are both more flexible and better for the environment.

Under electric power the trains will produce no emissions and have a maximum speed of 125mph. Yet, even in diesel mode, harmful emissions, like PM10 and NOx, will be reduced by up to 90%, compared to older trains (like the 40 year-old HST).

Hitachi Rail’s wider investment in Scotland

The new trains and depot infrastructure are being built as part of the UK Government-led £5.7bn Intercity Express Programme that is also supported by Hitachi’sinvestment in their £82m purpose-built factory at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

A further £20 million is being invested in depots across Scotland, at sites including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness, to maximise the reliability of trains for passengers.

This will see upskilling of depot staff and the installation of new technology to allow the trains to be maintained and serviced in Scotland for 27½ years.

The move will also see around 300 people employed in depots in across the country and a renewed focus on bringing new talent into the industry.

The Intercity Express trains that are due to run on the East Coast Main Line are just one of three different fleets that Hitachi is building for Scotland.

There are also 70 Class 385 electric commuter trains, which will run between Edinburgh and Glasgow, and 19 Transpennine Express trains that will connect Northern England with major cities in Scotland.

Andy Rogers, Intercity Express Programme Director, at Hitachi Rail said:

“We’ve beaten the snow and the so-called ‘beast from the east’, with the train completing its test run from Edinburgh to Inverness successfully.

“Having the train at the depot, with its new £5m investment, is an important milestone for the project and it means the start of service is a step closer for people in Scotland.

“Later this year, trains will make it easier and more pleasant for passengers to travel around the country, boosting leisure journeys, connectivity and local economies.”

Rail Minister Jo Johnson said:

“We are investing in the biggest modernisation of our railways since the Victorian era to give passengers what they want – more frequent services and quicker journeys.

“The new state-of-the-art Intercity Express fleet provide more space, more comfort and more reliability for passengers on the East Coast Line when they are introduced later this year, with 65 new trains and nearly 500 new carriages running between London and Scotland. These trains are part of the £5.7bn Intercity Express Programme that will bring in modern faster trains across the country.”

Work begins on new futuristic train fleet for TransPennine Express

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  • Production of new intercity trains connecting northern England and Scotland has started with exclusive images released
  • 19 new five carriage trains harnessing Japanese bullet train technology to enter service in 2019
  • This is the third fleet being built for TransPennine Express. Together, these will provide 13million more seats per year
  • Customers to benefit from more seats, faster journey times and improved comfort with more legroom

TransPennine Express customers are a step closer to experiencing brand new, high quality trains as Hitachi begins work an intercity fleet to start service in 2019.

Production work has begun on two test trains in Japan which will arrive in the UK next year*.

The modern Japanese bullet train inspired fleet is being built by Hitachi and financed by Angel Trains.

The trains will be maintained at Hitachi’s newly built £80million depot in Doncaster, home to 250 employees and four apprentices. Long-term jobs will also be secured at existing depots in Liverpool, Newcastle and Edinburgh, which all play a role in maintaining the trains.

Investment in the trains and new depot come alongside the Great North Rail Project, which will upgrade key parts of the route to enable better services.

Modern trains for iconic Pennines route

From 2019 this fleet will connect major cities in the North of England and Scotland and will run from Manchester and Liverpool, across the iconic Pennines to cities such as Leeds, York, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

The trains will provide 161 additional seats compared to the existing trains on the popular intercity route. Customers will benefit from spacious carriages, providing extra legroom and additional luggage space.

Each new train will offer fast, free Wi-Fi in both Standard and First Class as well as complimentary on-board entertainment system, Exstream, allowing customers to stream the latest movies and TV shows during their journey.

Lighter and greener hybrid trains

Hitachi is using its famous Japanese-bullet train technology to make the new fleet light and aerodynamic. The 19 trains will all be hybrid, meaning they can switch seamlessly mid-journey between electric and diesel power. The trains, able to run in either five or ten carriage formation, are capable of speeds of up to 140mph in electric mode and 125 mph using diesel engines.

By using modern MTU engines from Rolls-Royce, the trains will cut harmful emissions under diesel power by up to 90%.

David Hoggarth, Director for Rail North, said:

“These trains are game-changers. Fast efficient travel on trains fit for purpose will open up rail to new users in the business and leisure sector and is one of the key components required for growing the Northern economy through enhanced connectivity, This is great news for the North and demonstrates that visionary franchise agreements can really deliver.”

Berry Sas, Projects Director for Hitachi Rail Europe said:

“Millions of journeys along the popular transpennine route will be transformed once these pioneering intercity trains are introduced into service.

“We have invested £80million in a state-of-the-art depot in Doncaster to ensure these new trains are running in top condition for each and every journey.”

TransPennine Express Managing Director Leo Goodwin said: “The construction of our third, brand new fleet of trains is tremendously exciting news for customers.

“Once in service in 2019, these will be some of the most advanced trains in the UK and coupled with the other new trains we are having built, will provide an additional 13million seats a year.

“We are committed to supporting the northern economy and are pleased that the fleet, which will be maintained at locations across the north and in Scotland will be supporting 250 long-term jobs”

Malcolm Brown, Chief Executive Officer for Angel Trains said:

“We are delighted that work has begun on these modern, efficient and fast trains, moving Angel Trains a step closer to the delivery of this fleet. Once delivered in 2019, hundreds of thousands of TransPennine Express passengers throughout the franchise period will enjoy a transformed northern inter-city travel experience. This will include a reliable, WIFI-enabled service, delivering travellers quickly and seamlessly to their destination, regardless of whether the route is electrified or unelectrified.

By procuring, financing and leasing these new bi-mode trains, Angel Trains has demonstrated its commitment to both northern investment and providing value to customers, bringing improved travel and more jobs to the region.

We have already invested over £5.0 billion in the UK rail industry and, working with our partners in the industry, we look forward to continuing to make further significant investments in rolling stock in future.”

*Notes on testing and manufacturing

The new fleet of Hitachi intercity trains (Class 802) were ordered by FirstGroup for TransPennine Express in 2016.

The trains will be built across Hitachi’s global manufacturing sites.

The first two trains to be built in Japan are test trains (802201 & 802202). Testing in the UK will begin in summer 2018 ahead of the trains entering passenger service in December 2019.

Hitachi Rail Europe: Virgin Azuma train debuts in Highlands

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Hitachi built Azuma train travelling past Gleneagles, Scotland

-Iconic train passes through one of most scenic routes on UK rail network
-Azuma set to transform cross-border services for five of Scotland’s cities
-£18m investment in Scottish depots by train manufacturer Hitachi

Virgin’s state-of-the-art Azuma train made its inaugural visit to the Highlands this weekend as preparations to transform cross-border rail services gather pace.

The iconic train, which takes its name from the Japanese word for “east”, will be rolled out on Virgin Trains’ east coast from next year, ushering in a new era of comfort and style for rail passengers.

It passed through some of the most iconic scenery on the UK rail network as it journeyed north of Edinburgh to Inverness on Friday afternoon for the first time, before travelling back to a depot in Doncaster in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The test run by manufacturer Hitachi is part of a programme to prepare Scotland for the 65-strong Azuma fleet. The first of these will enter service in December 2018 as part of a two-year rollout programme, with Azuma services due to operate from five of Scotland’s seven cities from 2019.

The Azuma is set to be one of the most advance passenger trains on the UK rail network, able to accelerate faster than existing trains and providing more comfort and space inside.

Hitachi is building the new trains at their factory in the North East of England (Newton Aycliffe, County Durham), home to 1000 train builders including 50 apprentices.

The firm has invested £18 million to modernise depots at Aberdeen, Inverness and Edinburgh to ensure they are able to service the new fleet, securing long-term engineering jobs at all three locations.

Virgin Trains operates half-hourly services between Edinburgh and London for most of the day, with four additional services running to Aberdeen and one train a day, the Highland Chieftain, serving Stirling, Perth and Inverness.

Andy Rogers, Programme Director for Hitachi Rail Europe, said: “Our rigorous test programme is moving apace ahead of the trains entering service next year. Over the next twelve months, passengers and enthusiasts will be seeing plenty more of our British-built Azuma trains testing in Scotland.”

UK Government Rail Minister Paul Maynard said: “We want to put passengers at the heart of everything we do and the £5.7bn government-led investment in a new fleet of state-of-the-art intercity trains is important step in achieving that. This test run is a key milestone in the introduction of the fleet on the East Coast Main Line and it will mean more space, more comfort and more reliability for passengers up and down the country.”

Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport and the Islands in Scotland, said: “It is very encouraging to see the new Virgin Azuma train visit Inverness, moving it another step closer to service introduction. The new fleet will offer cross-border passengers more capacity and the modern facilities we all now demand. The Scottish Government’s £5bn investment in the rail network is making a real difference across the country and I know developments like this make train travel a more attractive choice across the North and East of Scotland. This, in turn, can help drive the modal shift to rail as a regular option we are all keen to see delivered.”

David Horne, Virgin Trains Managing Director on the east coast route, added: “Azuma will bring a new era of style in long distance rail travel and we’re excited to see preparations gather pace that will help transform services for passengers across Scotland.”