Virgin has unveiled designs for a new fleet of trains which is set to replace the InterCity 125 on the East Coast Main Line.
The new Virgin Azuma trains will come into service in 2018 and will, according to the company, be “one of the most advanced trains on the UK’s rail network”.
The Azuma is Virgin’s development of the Hitachi Class 800 and Class 801 trains, which have been designed by Hitachi Rail Europe with interiors by DCA Design International.
Could hit speeds of 140mph
The trains will replace the InterCity 125, which is the fastest diesel-powered train in the world and has been a standard on British railways for nearly 40 years. It was designed by Sir Kenneth Grange and first entered service in 1976.
Virgin is set to introduce 65 of the new trains under its Virgin Azuma branding. It says the name was chosen as it is a literal translation of “East” in Japanese and pays homage to the train’s development by a Japanese company and to the East Coast route.
While the trains will initially run at 125mph, Virgin says it is investigating the potential for them to run at 140mph.
“Best legroom on the network”
The Azuma trains will feature new seat designs which, Virgin says, will give them “the best leg room on the rail network”.
There will be new carpets and “mood lighting” throughout and leather seats in first class.
The trains will also use a “traffic light” reservation system on seats, with green, amber or red lights showing whether or not a seat is available.
“Transforming rail travel”
Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, says: “The state-of-the-art Intercity Express trains heading to Virgin will transform rail travel for passengers between London, the north east and Scotland.
“These new trains, combined with Virgin’s exciting plans for the franchise, will provide more services, more seats, and faster journeys, helping to place passengers at the heart of the railway.”