Business / Corporate

Hitachi high-speed train unveiled in Britain before launch of London to Leeds service

Kyodo

Hitachi Ltd.’s new high-speed train called Azuma was unveiled in London on Tuesday, a day prior to beginning intercity passenger services.

London North Eastern Railway was set to launch the diesel-electric hybrid train service on Wednesday on an electrified section of track covering about 300 kilometers between London and Leeds in northern England — with plans to extend the service to Edinburgh in Scotland.

The British railway operator also plans to eventually introduce it on nonelectrified sections from Edinburgh to Inverness and Aberdeen in Scotland.

The train was named Azuma, which means “East” in Japanese, as it will run on LNER’s East Coast Main Line. The locomotives use Japanese bullet train technology and are being built at Hitachi’s British factory in Newton Aycliffe, in northeastern England.

LNER Chairman Robin Gisby told reporters that the new high-speed passenger service will be able to compete with equivalent plane routes.

The Azuma train will run at a maximum speed of around 200 km per hour. LNER will deploy 65 such trains, compared with its current fleet of 45 trains.

“I hope Azuma will become a bridge between Japan and Britain,” said Junichi Kawahata, chief of Hitachi’s Kasado Works in Yamaguchi Prefecture, where the company manufactures train parts.

Hitachi has produced high-speed trains including Japan’s shinkansen bullet trains since their launch in 1964.