Virgin Trains’ customers are a step closer to new trains as work begins on the Azuma (Class 800) fleet, due to enter service on the east coast in 2018.
Work on the bodyshells is taking place in Kasado, Japan, before the trains arrive in the UK to be built by Hitachi’s manufacturing team in the north-east.
Hitachi’s UK train manufacturing team at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, is home to over 900 employees including over 50 apprentices.
UK-based work on the Virgin Azuma will begin this summer.
Virgin hopes the Azuma will transform travel and customer experiences when it arrives on the east coast main line next year.
David Horne, managing director of Virgin Trains on the east coast, said: “We are very excited to be moving closer to the day when our fantastic new train comes into service.
“The arrival of Azuma in 2018 will mark another milestone on our journey towards totally transforming travel for our customers, and the work happening now in Kasado and beginning in the summer at Newton Aycliffe are important steps on that journey.”
The fleet of 65 trains will provide an extra 12,200 seats, and faster journeys will make direct routes to new destinations such as London-Middlesbrough possible, as well as a big increase in through services from London to places such as Bradford, Harrogate and Lincoln.
Karen Boswell, managing director at Hitachi Rail Europe, said: “The new Azuma fleet will be a combination of Japanese design and British manufacturing.
“The trains are built using Japanese bullet train technology, world famous for its quality and reliability.
“We are proud that our Newton Aycliffe team, based a short distance from the East Coast main line, will work on pioneering trains used by millions of passengers.”