Transforming the LNER East Coast Mainline service

Published on: 15th May 2019

Travelling from London to Scotland on the East Coast mainline railway is being transformed with the introduction of new high-speed Hitachi trains manufactured in the UK. This coincides with the creation of LNER, London North Eastern Railway, and its new Azuma trains (from the Japanese meaning “East”).

This project is the culmination of a two year design programme between DCA and LNER to transform travel for everyone along the east coast route. The aim was to increase comfort, provide better on-board service and introduce a travel experience that passengers will want to repeat.

Key differentiators are extra leg-room (7cms more personal space), increased overhead and under-seat luggage space to keep your valuables close by, a power socket for every seat throughout the train with electronic seat reservations to help you find your seat, plus improved WiFi.

DCA were instrumental in adapting the original Hitachi/DfT specification to give the LNER train interiors a unique visual identity. The process of selecting colours, materials and finishes (CMF) for the interiors focussed on changes that can be implemented without structural modifications or major interior re-configuration. This required close collaboration with nominated suppliers to generate ideas that look fresh and distinctive, tying in with the introduction of the LNER service. Bright vibrant reds with a gradated linear wave pattern provide a distinctive Standard Class theme. In 1st Class, a rich oxblood colour was selected to generate the right balance of luxury and practicality. The use of a traditional colour in a modern context imbues the interiors with a quality feel that evokes the best features of rail travel. The 1st Class CMF has a more subtle linear fabric pattern fitted to wider seats with recline function and height adjustable leather headrest pillows to enhance the comfort level and, create a more sophisticated look and feel.

On-board catering provides a 1st Class at-seat service from a dedicated kitchen. A bespoke shop/servery, for hot drinks and snacks situated midway through the train plus a trolley service cater for Standard Class. Both were designed and assessed by DCA to meet human factors requirements and the rigours of day to day service.

These trains replace 30-year-old rolling stock and are designed to provide a new benchmark in customer experience and relaxing intercity travel.