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Azuma launches on Flying Scotsman

01 Aug 2019

UK: East Coast Main Line operator LNER launched its Hitachi-built Class 800 Azuma trainsets on Anglo-Scottish services on August 1, deploying one of the electro-diesel units on its flagship 05.40 Flying Scotsman service from Edinburgh to London King’s Cross and the 17.30 return working.

Class 800s have been operating between London and Leeds since May 15, but were initially prohibited from running further north pending modifications to the signalling and power supply. August 1 also sees the first Azuma deployment on London – York services, the new units working the 11.06 from Kings Cross and 13.29 return.

Under the Department for Transport's Intercity Express Programme, Hitachi is supplying 13 nine-car and 10 five-car Class 800 electro-diesel trainsets and 30 nine-car and 12 five-car electric units designated Class 801. These are due to replace LNER's existing fleets of 45 IC225 electric and diesel HST trainsets by mid-2020.

During a special preview run on July 30, an Azuma set was posed at York station alongside the A4 class steam locomotive 'Mallard', which set the world speed record for steam on July 3 1938, and at Darlington with A3 class locomotive 'Flying Scotsman' which hauled the first regular non-stop service between London and Edinburgh in 1928.

To mark the start of Anglo-Scottish operations, trainset 800104 has been decked out in a special ‘Connecting Scotland’ branding. This featured a newly created LNER tartan, designed by Ken MacDonald of Houston Kiltmakers in Paisley. The tartan colours combine blue for Scotland, red for England, white for the Yorkshire rose, purple for the heather of Scotland, green for the rolling hills and landscape along the ECML, and silver grey to represent the tracks of the railway.