Date for LNER’s Azuma in­tro­duc­tion re­set to 2019

Rail (UK) - - Network - Richard Clin­nick richard.clin­nick@bauer­me­dia.co.uk @Clin­nick1

LNER has con­firmed that its Class 800/801 Azuma fleet will not en­ter traf­fic this year.

The Hi­tachi In­ter­city Ex­press Pro­gramme trains had been due to start car­ry­ing pas­sen­gers in De­cem­ber, but that has now been de­layed.

LNER spokesman Karen But­ler, speak­ing ex­clu­sively to RAIL on Oc­to­ber 25, said: “We are in­tro­duc­ing them in 2019. The rea­son is it will give pas­sen­gers more con­fi­dence and we can pre­pare prop­erly. There are sev­eral dif­fer­ent is­sues at the mo­ment, not one spe­cific rea­son, and we do not want un­cer­tainty.”

A Hi­tachi spokesman said: “Hi­tachi re­mains on track to hand over com­pleted new Azuma trains to LNER in early De­cem­ber, so they can con­tinue their driver and on-board staff train­ing and readi­ness pro­gramme.”

But­ler added that the op­er­a­tor was work­ing to­wards type ac­cep­tance for the trains.

The Of­fice of Rail and Road (ORR) has sus­pended ap­proval of the trains due to the de­sign of the in­ter-car con­nec­tors ( RAIL 863) and is­sues with sig­nalling ( RAIL 861).

Since Au­gust 1, the trains have been un­able to op­er­ate in elec­tric mode ow­ing to in­ter­fer­ence with sig­nalling north of York.

Eight trains are cur­rently be­ing used for train­ing and test­ing on the East Coast Main Line, ahead of their in­tro­duc­tion.

The ini­tial plan was for the trains to be in­tro­duced on the Leeds/Hul­lLon­don King’s Cross routes, and But­ler said that re­mains the case. Other routes will also be in­tro­duced next year, she said.

Asked how this would af­fect the ex­ist­ing LNER fleet, with the High Speed Trains need­ing to be with­drawn by the end of 2019, and the start of the cas­cade of Class 91/Mk 4s else­where, But­ler said that those de­ci­sions still needed to be fi­nalised.

Hi­tachi con­firmed it is in dis­cus­sions with ORR re­gard­ing the con­nec­tors, and is work­ing closely with Net­work Rail on the sig­nal in­ter­fer­ence.

A Net­work Rail source told RAIL that there is also sig­nalling in­ter­fer­ence south of York, and that Hi­tachi has ac­cepted that a train­borne so­lu­tion is re­quired. The plan is to de­sign and in­stall cop­per in­duc­tors un­der the mo­tor ve­hi­cles, to re­duce the elec­tro­mag­netic cur­rents by at least 50%. It is hoped that the first tests will be car­ried out in Jan­uary.

NICK GREEN.

LNER 800103 races over Eg­man­ton Level Cross­ing (be­tween Ret­ford and Ne­wark) on Oc­to­ber 24, with a train­ing trip. There are 65 Azu­mas on or­der, but their planned in­tro­duc­tion into traf­fic from De­cem­ber has been de­layed, with no new date given.

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