The new train made its inaugural passenger journey on May 15, departing London at 11.03 and arriving in Leeds at 13.16, completing the route in just over two hours and travelling at around 125mph.
It is the first of 65 new trains, which will replace the existing LNER fleet connecting key cities in the East Midlands, Yorkshire, North East England and Scotland.
LNER’s Managing Director, David Horne, told The Business Travel Magazine: “We have 45 trains today, all very busy and we know how passenger numbers have risen in the last twenty years across the network.
“So to be able to get more trains with bigger capacity means that we’re able to offer more seats to our customers and launch new services such as between Lincoln and London, Harrogate and London, and Scotland and London later this year.”
Developed with Hitachi Rail, the state-of-the-art Azuma train embraces Japanese bullet train-style technology with many of the parts being manufactured and maintained in the North East of England.
According to Hitachi Rail’s Head of Communications, Adam Love, the new trains are engineered to be lighter and longer than the existing trains, they travel faster and have an average 100 more passenger seats per train.
“Our sister trains on the GWR (Great Western Railway) routes are getting to the stations 5-6 minutes early,” he said.
Hull will become the first destination to have all its rail services operated by Azuma trains, with the new service being rolled out across the entire 936-mile East Coast route in the coming months.
The new trains will feature an all-new on-board passenger experience.
“From extra leg-room and improved WiFi to being more environmentally friendly and accessible to more people, the Azuma experience is a real revolution in rail travel,” says Horne.
Compared with the existing trains, the Azuma’s First Class carriages have larger tables, reclining seats with adjustable headrests, and both USB and plug sockets at every seat.
Part of the government’s £5.7billion Intercity Express Programme, the introduction of the Azuma fleet is designed to modernise LNER services on the key intercity route used by more than 22 million people each year.