TRAINS for the East Coast main line which are being built in the North-East are to enter operation in May.

The Azuma trains, which are being manufactured by Hitachi at its purpose-built factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, are to be used by London North Eastern Railway (LNER) from May 15.

They are expected to be rolled out across the North-East by the end of the summer.

The trains have been through rigorous testing with engineers and technical staff from Hitachi, Network Rail and the Department for Transport to ensure they will meet the high standards LNER sets for outstanding customer service.

LNER Managing Director David Horne said the first Azuma train will run on the London King’s Cross to Leeds route, with further trains being phased into service on the rest of the route over the coming months.

“I am delighted to confirm that LNER will run the first Azuma train on the service between London and Leeds, commencing from 15 May,” Mr Horne said.

“This is what customers up and down the country have been waiting for and represents a monumental milestone for rail travel.

“We’ve worked very hard alongside our partners and suppliers to reach this point and I look forward to giving all our customers an excellent experience every time they travel with us.”

LNER customers will see more seats and more services rolled out across the network as Azuma trains are introduced, with the total fleet increasing from 45 to 65 trains.

Karen Boswell, Managing Director of Hitachi Rail said: “Passengers on the East Coast Main Line will soon be able to enjoy a fleet built in the North East of England harnessing Japanese bullet-train technology.

“Our British train factory has sourced parts from across the country to build the Azuma trains, which herald a new era for this famous route.”

The introduction of the new trains has required substantial work across the network to update equipment and technology used to run the Azumas.

Rob McIntosh, Route Managing Director for Network Rail, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that passengers will soon be able to travel on the new Azuma trains and we look forward to them reaping the benefits.

“A huge amount of work has gone into reaching this significant step and we have worked extremely closely with both LNER and Hitachi on this.”