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National Railway Museum

Four trains, four generations—history to be made on Yorkshire’s East Coast Main Line

A world first will take place in Yorkshire next month to celebrate the heritage and future of one of the country’s most iconic railway lines.

A world first will take place in Yorkshire next month to celebrate the heritage and future of one of the country’s most iconic railway lines.

Four trains spanning four generations will travel side by side, in the same direction, along the East Coast Main Line on April 23 2017.

Yorkshire’s DNA of speed and style through the ages binds together an event that fittingly comes just days before the now legendary ‘Tour de Yorkshire’ begins.

This will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the world famous Flying Scotsman travel alongside two trains from Virgin Trains’ revitalised fleet - an HST (Class 43), an intercity225 (Class 91) - and the rail operator’s brand new train, the Virgin Azuma (Class 800) which is being built by Hitachi in the North East, and will come into service in 2018.

The four trains will travel together for several miles north of York to showcase the past, present and future of rail travel.

The historic journey, organised by Virgin Trains, Welcome to Yorkshire, Network Rail and the National Railway Museum, will begin near the village of Tollerton. The public will get the chance to witness something never seen before on the East Coast Main Line, but those hoping to catch a glimpse are being urged to stay safe behind boundary fences and keep off the tracks and private land - trespassers will cause the trains to stop and put at risk the completion of both this event and any future plans to showcase the route and its iconic locos.

More details of the event will be released in April.

Rob McIntosh, Managing Director for Network Rail on the London North Eastern and East Midlands route, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to create such a prestigious and unique event for the people of Yorkshire. The area has a very proud rail heritage and by working closely with our industry partners we’ve been able to turn what has been a logistically challenging vision – to create an iconic railway moment on the East Coast Main Line without impacting on regular passengers - into what will be a truly special occasion.”

David Horne, Managing Director for Virgin Trains on the east coast, said: “Just one year on from unveiling our brand new Virgin Azuma trains, we’re delighted to present this unique event that showcases the past, present and future of rail travel in the UK, with Azuma travelling alongside 'Flying Scotsman' and trains from our current fleet. With our new Azuma trains entering service next year, this is an opportunity to celebrate the icons of the railways and look forward to 2018 when we’ll usher in a new era for travel on the East Coast route."

Sir Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “This is a major event for Yorkshire and something people will remember for decades. It once again shows how the county is leading the way and to top it off, it’s the weekend before the Tour de Yorkshire so will get the build up to the race off to a flying start!”

Paul Kirkman, director for the National Railway Museum in York which owns Flying Scotsman, said: “The East Coast Main Line has long been famed for speed and style. In the 19th century elegant locomotives were designed to haul trains on this route cementing its reputation as a railway racing stretch operated by thoroughbred engines. The four train line up epitomises the evolution of the later generation of fast, elegant and stylish trains - all with a shared bloodline - that epitomise the history of the route from the 1850s to today.

“The National Railway Museum is proud that Flying Scotsman, a symbol of engineering excellence, the first steam locomotive to achieve an authenticated speed of 100mph and the first to undertake a non-stop run between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh Waverley, is taking its place alongside such worthy successors to its speed and style mantle.”

Karen Boswell, managing director for Hitachi Rail Europe, said: “We believe our new British built Azuma trains will inspire the next generation of rail enthusiasts and show how investment in new trains will transform passenger experiences on this iconic route.”

Notes to editors

  • The Four Trains event will take place on Sunday 23 April, with confirmation of timings to follow
  • The event will see the four trains positioned on the four tracks of the East Coast Main Line at Tollerton junction in North Yorkshire, around six miles north of York station
  • The four trains will together move south, towards York station, in a staggered formation at around 20-25mph before then returning to York station
  • No passengers or media will be allowed on the trains
  • Specific, designated media viewing locations are available with details to be confirmed closer to the event
  • Not forgetting the diesel heritage of the area—Flying Scotsman will be hauled into its place in the historic line up by a Class 55 Deltic
  • Stagecoach and Virgin are working in partnership to operate the East Coast and West Coast inter-city routes under the Virgin Trains brand. Together, they are on track to revolutionise rail travel across the UK.

About Virgin Trains

Virgin Azuma is set to revolutionise UK travel when it arrives on the east coast in 2018. With 65 trains providing an extra 12,200 seats for a new and expanded timetable, the fleet of Virgin Azumas will increase capacity into King’s Cross by 28 per cent during peak time.

The combined network connects some of the nation’s most iconic destinations including Glasgow, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, York and London.

Virgin Trains is committed to delivering a high speed, high frequency service, offering shorter journey times, more comfortable travel and excellent customer service. Customers consistently rate Virgin Trains as one of the top long-distance rail franchise operators in the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) commissioned by industry watchdog, Transport Focus.

On the East Coast route, £140m is being invested to create a more personalised travel experience. We have already invested £21m to completely revamp our existing fleet and customers can now benefit from 42 additional services (22,000 extra seats) per week between Edinburgh and London. 2018 will see the introduction of completely new Azuma trains being built in the UK by Hitachi.

The West Coast route has a proud record of challenging the status quo - from introducing tilting Pendolino trains, to a pioneering automated delay repay scheme and becoming the first franchised rail operator to offer m-Tickets for all ticket types.

Visit the Virgin Trains Media Room for the latest news, images and videos. Subscribe here for regular news from Virgin Trains. Press Office: 0845 000 3333.

About the National Railway Museum and Flying Scotsman

  • The National Railway Museum (NRM) in York is the home and owner of the Flying Scotsman. Following a decade long campaign to purchase and restore this historic engine, this much loved locomotive made its inaugural run on February 25th 2016 from London Kings Cross to York. Since then more than half a million people have either directly seen Flying Scotsman at NRM or ridden behind it at via Heritage Railways tours and mainline trips.  In addition to this it’s estimated several hundreds of thousands more in 2016 were able to enjoy Flying Scotsman with viewings as it travelled around the country. For details on its 2017 itinerary, visit the Flying Scotsman website.
  • The National Railway Museum in York has the largest collection of railway objects in the world and attracts over 700,000 visitors per year.
  • The National Railway Museum’s collection includes over 300 locomotives and rolling stock, 628 coins and medals, 4,899 pieces of railway uniform and costume, railway equipment, documents, records, artwork and railway related photographs.
  • The National Railway Museum houses a world-class collection of Royal trains, which includes a collection of Royal carriages, from those used by Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II.
  • The National Railway Museum’s vast art collection comprises of 11,270 posters, 2,358 prints and drawings, 1,052 paintings, and 1,750,000 photographs—many of which have never been on public display.
  • The National Railway Museum forms part of the Science Museum Group, along with the Science Museum in London, the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, the National Media Museum in Bradford and the National Railway Museum in Shildon.

Press contacts

Network Rail – Toby Higgins/Amy Brenndorfer, tel: 01904 383180 / toby.higgins@networkrail.co.uk or amy.brenndorfer@networkrail.co.uk

Virgin Trains East Coast – Phoebe Mellor, Hope & Glory PR, tel: 020 3588 9700 or 020 3588 9720 / phoebe.mellor@hopeandglorypr.com

Welcome to Yorkshire

National Railway Museum –Jenny Wilkinson/Phil Reed, Aberfield Communications Agency, tel: 0113 880 0444 or 07811 399 949 / jenny.wilkinson@aberfield.com or Phil.Reed@aberfield.com