Virgin to expand seating
New Azuma trains ‘arrive in March 2019’
Hitachi trains will replace ageing diesels
Virgin will introduce a new fleet of Hitachi Azuma trains to the London-Edinburgh route from March 2019, according to industry sources.
They will begin replacing the fleet of HST diesel and Mallard electric trains on Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) from December 2018 but will not arrive in Scotland for a further three months, it has been claimed.
The Durham-built units will reduce the Edinburgh-London journey time by 22 minutes to just four hours.
It is understood that when the entire 65-strong fleet enters service by 2020 there will be 6,300 additional seats and that two daily (in each direction) London-Newcastle trains will be extended to Edinburgh.
The extra seating will be welcomed, particularly during the Edinburgh Festival when passengers complain of overcrowding.
A test run from Doncaster to Dunbar in August gave the public the first glimpse of the new trains.
According to the trade website Business Traveller rail is taking market share from the airlines for the first time since the airlines began investing in regional routes in the 1960s.