Virgin’s new Azuma train has travelled to the Highlands in Scotland for the first time as a part of an ongoing test run programme.

The new locomotive is currently scheduled to enter passenger service on the Virgin Trains East Coast network from next year.

The new Azuma train travelled north of Edinburgh to Inverness and then back to a depot in Doncaster under the latest trial run, which was conducted by the vehicle’s manufacturer Hitachi.

"This test run is a key milestone in the introduction of the fleet on the East Coast Main Line and it will mean more space, more comfort and more reliability."

Hitachi Rail Europe programme director Andy Rogers said: “Our rigorous test programme is moving apace ahead of the trains entering service next year.

“Over the next 12 months, passengers and enthusiasts will be seeing plenty more of our British-built Azuma trains testing in Scotland.”

The test runs form a part of a wider programme that aims to prepare Scotland for the introduction of the 65-vehicle Azuma fleet.

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By GlobalData

The first train in the Azuma fleet is scheduled to enter service in December next year, while the new locomotives are expected to enter full operation from five Scottish cities from 2019.

UK Rail Minister Paul Maynard said: “We want to put passengers at the heart of everything we do and the £5.7bn government-led investment in a new fleet of state-of-the-art intercity trains is an important step in achieving that.

“This test run is a key milestone in the introduction of the fleet on the East Coast Main Line and it will mean more space, more comfort and more reliability for passengers up and down the country.”

The Azuma trains will be equipped with additional facilities compared to the existing passenger vehicles.

All of the new vehicles are being built at Hitachi’s manufacturing site in North East England.