It’s official. Train firm LNER will not be introducing its multi-billion pound fleet of Azuma trainsets until 2019.
It was hoped they would be in service in a couple of months’ time but, as was rumoured a fortnight ago, service entry will now be delayed.
A spokesperson for LNER told Business Traveller that “A definite date cannot yet be confirmed. We want to ensure the best service for our customers.”
The original plan was to launch Azumas on the busy London-Doncaster-Wakefield-Leeds route. “That remains current thinking” we were told.
And what about Edinburgh, which was expected to see the Azumas in March 2019? “We expect to introduce Azumas on other routes as quickly as possible” said the spokesperson.
Probably of more concern is the news in today’s The Scotsman that Network Rail wants to close or partially close London Kings Cross on various dates in 2019.
It’s all down to engineering work. Network Rail wants to spend £250 million to upgrade track layouts around the Kings Cross terminus.
Leeds-based Yorkshire Post reported that the works would continue in 2020.
Fortunately the work will be limited to weekends. But it will coincide with the introduction of LNER’s Azumas in 2019.
And as we know Network Rail engineering works have a habit of extending into the Monday morning business travel peak (their completion can be delayed by bad weather or other events).
The ECML (East Coast Mainline) is one of the busiest long distance routes in the UK with half-hourly services on key routes to Leeds and Edinburgh.
We await further details.