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New Azuma trains arrive at UK port ahead of passenger services starting later this year

Press Release   •   Mar 20, 2018 18:05 GMT

Train arrives at Teesport
  • Virgin Trains’ on-board crew and drivers to use new arrivals for training
  • Azuma trains to enter passenger service from December 2018 offering greater peak time capacity, faster and more frequent journeys
  • Hitachi building majority of Azuma fleet at their train factory in the North East of England

Two brand new Hitachi test trains arrived at Teesport (Middlesbrough) today after completing a two-month journey from Japan*.

The two five-cartrains will form part of Virgin Trains’ new Azuma fleet and will be the first used for training on-board crew and drivers.

Virgin Azuma trains will transform travel and customer experiences when they arrive on the East Coast Main Line from December this year. The fleet of 65 trains will provide an extra 12,200 seats, offer the potential to enable faster journeys and support a big increase in through services from London to places such as Bradford, Harrogate and Lincoln.

Customers can expect more comfortable journeys with increased legroom, additional luggage space and faster Wi-Fi.

Virgin Trains getting ready for new Azuma fleet

Virgin Trains staff will soon get a hands-on experience of using new Azuma trains. The two new Azuma trains which arrived at Teesport today will be used to teach on-board crew and drivers how to operate the trains when passenger services start later this year. Virgin Trains have already begun driver training using Azuma simulators at King’s Cross, Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh stations.

UK train builder steps up Azuma test programme

Hitachi, the builder and maintainer of the new Azuma fleet, now have five Azuma trains for testing.

Passengers have already been catching glimpses of the new trains as Hitachi steps up its rigorous test programme.

Hitachi’s UK factory in County Durham will begin building Azuma trains this summer. The factory at Newton Aycliffe, situated a short distance from the East Coast Main Line, is home to 1000 employees, including 50 apprentices.

Hitachi has also built a new £80million train depot in Doncaster to maintain the new fleet.

Andy Rogers, Programme Director at Hitachi Rail said: “We are proud to be building a fleet inspired by Japanese bullet-train technology here in the UK. Our comprehensive test programme is making great progress with the new trains performing very well on the East Coast main line.”

Aileen Jordan, Azuma Director at Virgin Trains on the east coast, said: “We’re excited to have reached yet another milestone with the arrival of these two trains and with them, the opportunity for our drivers and onboard crews to use these for training ahead of Azuma coming into service from later this year.”

Geoff Lippitt, Business Development Director, commented: “The welcomed arrival of the new Virgin Azuma trains at Teesport, marks another important milestone for Hitachi and the wider North east region. Since opening the Newton Aycliffe production facility back in 2015 and benefitting from the region’s unrivalled manufacturing skills base, Hitachi has been a much-needed boost to the regional economy. Teesport’s partnership with Hitachi, as primary port of choice, for the importation, storage and handling of rail cars is a role we are very proud to undertake.”



The two trains which arrived at Teesport are five-car hybrids, able to run on both electric and diesel power (Train numbers 800201 & 800202).

Hitachi builds test trains at its factory in Japan ahead of UK manufacturing beginning.

About Intercity Express Programme – East Coast

The state of the art trains, built by Hitachi in the North East, are part of the government-led £5.7bn Intercity Express Programme. The East Coast element, worth £2.7bn, will introduce 65 trains totalling around 500 new carriages offering improved capacity and comfort, and transform services for millions of passengers. As well as improving the passenger experience the IEP trains will boost the economy. Hitachi's Newton Aycliffe factory has created over 1000 new jobs, plus potentially thousands more job opportunities in the UK supply chain.

For more information, please contact:

Sam Fisk on 07713 697 727 or at

Kaper PR on 0203 301 2086

About Hitachi Rail Europe Ltd.

Hitachi Rail Europe (HRE) is a global transport specialist with over 100 years of experience building pioneering trains, offering quality maintenance and developing innovative new technology. As a leader in rail we’re improving transport for passengers, connecting communities and helping to boost the UK’s economy.

Having delivered the hugely popular Javelin HS1 fleet in advance of the 2012 London Games, Hitachi is delivering major orders for new trains, with 281 due to be in service by 2021. The first wave of new trains is being made at our purpose-built factory in County Durham and will enter passenger service in 2017 as part of the UK Government’s £5.7bn Intercity Express Programme. With a proud reputation for innovation, Hitachi is at the forefront of using new digital technology to enhance passenger experience and enrich Britain’s railway’s heritage. Hitachi rail is growing rapidly and we’ll soon by more than 2,000 strong, based at 15 locations across the UK.

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