Hitachi Rail Europe (HRE) has started the construction of British franchise London North Eastern Railway’s (LNER) Azuma fleet for the East Coast Mainline.
The fleet is being built at Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe, in County Durham. The factory has 730 employees and has recently recruited 50 apprentices.
LNER managing director David Horne said: “We’re delighted that manufacturing has now commenced on Azuma in County Durham. Our customers can expect a fleet of high-tech, modern trains that will deliver more seats and space, as well as faster journeys.
“Azuma will play a key role in revolutionising travel on the east coast mainline, delivering first-class service, as well as extra services for Bradford, Lincoln, Harrogate and Edinburgh.”
Hitachi designed the trains using its Japanese bullet train technology, with the front of the train using a sleek aerodynamic design. Azuma is scheduled to become operational by the end of this year. It will connect London and Yorkshire.
The fleet will also start running in Scotland from next year.
Hitachi Rail Europe managing director Karen Boswell said: “Our pioneering Azuma trains, inspired by Japanese bullet trains, will transform journeys on the East Coast mainline. By building them at Newton Aycliffe, we are supporting thousands of jobs with a strong British supplier base.”
The introduction of the new fleet is expected to help reduce passengers’ journey time.