LNER is to fit additional luggage racks to its nine-car Azumas in response to feedback from staff and passengers.
The move follows challenges experienced when the new Hitachi trains entered service on LNER’s Anglo-Scottish route earlier this year. The operator has recognised that, while the Azumas offer more luggage space than the trains they are replacing due to their larger overhead racks, there have been challenges accommodating large items of luggage.
The modification will be made on LNER’s 43 nine-car Azumas (30 electric and 13 bi-mode); the five-car units will not be modified as they are not generally used on Anglo-Scottish services. On each train, pairs of seats at the carriage ends will be removed to make space for luggage stacks, with two additional racks to be installed in coaches B, C, H and J and one in coaches G, K and L. This will entail the removal of 20 standard class seats and one first class seat. These seats are not adjacent to windows due to the presence of door pockets and consequently LNER has not made them available for reservation from the outset.
A variation to the Intercity Express Programme (IEP) contract for the Azuma fleet is in progress with the Department for Transport and owner Agility Trains. Fitment will start next year, with the aim of completing the modification concurrent with planned maintenance so sets to do not have to be taken out of traffic for an additional period. The aim is to complete the installation of additional luggage racks by summer 2020.
LNER is also responding to feedback about the cycle spaces on the Azumas by altering the design of the hooks to make them easier to use, although it will not be allocating extra space for bicycles.
The announcement was made as LNER introduced Azumas to services between London and Aberdeen for the first time on 25 and 26 November.