Virgin Trains Azuma crosses Border for first time

Virgin Azuma 800101 arrives in Dunbar today on the first of a series of test runs north of the Border. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Virgin Azuma 800101 arrives in Dunbar today on the first of a series of test runs north of the Border. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A brand new Virgin Azuma which will replace 40-year-old trains on the east coast main line made its debut visit to Scotland today.

The test run from Doncaster to Dunbar was the first of a series north of the Border in the run-up to the trains entering service late next year.

Virgin Azuma 800101 crossing the Royal Border Bridge in Berwick-upon-Tweed today. Picture Ian Rutherford

Virgin Azuma 800101 crossing the Royal Border Bridge in Berwick-upon-Tweed today. Picture Ian Rutherford

Their superior acceleration will cut Edinburgh-London journeys by 22 minutes to four hours from 2020.

Even greater journey time reductions are expected on other Virgin Trains East Coast routes between London and Aberdeen, Inverness and Glasgow.

The Azumas will replace 1970s vintage InterCity 125 “High Speed Trains” on the two north of Scotland routes, and another fleet on the Edinburgh and Glasgow lines which are nearly 30 years old.

The test train - currently known only by its 800 101 number - is expected to visit Glasgow next, followed by Aberdeen and Inverness.

A Virgin Azuma crosses into Scotland for the first time today. Picture Ian Rutherford

A Virgin Azuma crosses into Scotland for the first time today. Picture Ian Rutherford

It has yet to be fitted with seats, with the interiors still being designed.

The 65-strong Hitachi-built fleet, designed in Japan and built near Durham, is named after the Japanese word for east.

Some are purely electric, for the Edinburgh and Glasgow routes, while others will switch to diesel power for the non-electrified routes north of Edinburgh.

Hitachi Rail Europe Karen Boswell managing director said: “Passengers and enthusiasts in Scotland will be seeing more of the Azuma trains in the coming months as part of our rigorous test programme.

A nine-carriage Virgin Azuma making its first Scottish test run today. Picture Ian Rutherford

A nine-carriage Virgin Azuma making its first Scottish test run today. Picture Ian Rutherford

“Our UK-built fleet harnesses world-famous Japanese bullet train technology, giving passengers on the east coast main line the very best in quality and reliability.”