Four trains, four generations – times confirmed for history-making event on Yorkshire’s East Coast Main Line

13 Apr 2017

Further details about the once-in-a-lifetime event taking place on Yorkshire’s railways later this month have been confirmed, with the historic occasion to begin at 06.00 on Sunday 23 April near the North Yorkshire village of Tollerton.

With the eyes of the world watching, four trains spanning four generations will travel side-by-side, in the same direction, to celebrate the past, present and future of one of the country’s most iconic pieces of railway, the East Coast Main Line, before arriving into York at around 08.00 for a special celebration that will last until around 09.00.

World-famous Flying Scotsman will 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.

Now the partners involved in the show - Network Rail, Virgin Trains, Welcome to Yorkshire, the National Railway Museum and Hitachi - have confirmed that the historic occasion will begin around 10 miles north of York near the village of Tollerton.

The best view of the action will be from York station – where a giant screen will broadcast footage of the trains live, and members of the public are advised to head to the station.

Those hoping to catch a glimpse of the trains as they travel between Tollerton and the station are being urged to stay safe behind boundary fences and keep off both 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.

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 revamped 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: “We’re immensely proud to be flying the flag for this once-in-a-generation railway spectacular. This event shows yet again how Yorkshire is leading the way and the timing is perfect, throwing the county firmly into the spotlight just days before the start of the Tour de Yorkshire.”

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 lineup 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."

Bob Gwynne, Associate Curator, National Railway Museum said: “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
  • 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 10 miles north of York station
  • The four trains will together move south, towards York station, in a staggered formation at around 20-25mph
  • 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 route – Flying Scotsman will be hauled into its place in the historic lineup 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. Virgin has already invested £21m to completely revamp its 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 - virgintrains.co.uk/about/media-room - for the latest news, images and videos. Subscribe here for regular news from Virgin Trains. Press Office: 0845 000 3333.

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