Cross-industry working group to investigate 140mph running
Virgin Trains East Coast has unveiled the first Class 800 train for the East Coast main line, and says the train will be known as the Virgin ‘Azuma’.
A total of 65 Class 800/801 units will be introduced on the route from 2018, a mixture of EMUs and bi-modes with electric and diesel capability, as part of the Government’s Inter-city Express Programme. Hitachi is assembling the majority of the fleet at its new Newton Aycliffe facility in County Durham. IEP trains are also being introduced on the Great Western route. Azuma translates as ‘east’ in Japanese, which Virgin says pays homage to the new train’s lineage and to the East Coast route.
VTEC has also announced the creation of a cross-industry working group, including Network Rail, to investigate the potential for the new trains to achieve their full 140mph speed capability on the East Coast main line.
VTEC plans a series of timetable enhancements in 2019 and 2020 as the new fleet enters service, including regular 4hr schedules between Edinburgh and London and 2hr journeys between Leeds and London, along with more services and trains to new destinations including Huddersfield and Middlesbrough. VTEC says the improved performance of the fleet will help realise these improvements, in particular the trains’ faster acceleration.