LNER Azuma (Class 800/801)

Andyh82

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There seems to be a lot of tweets lately with LNER replacing a 9 car with 10 cars, or vice Versa, or even a 9/10 car being replaced by 5 cars.

It’s blatantly obvious to me that they should have just ordered a standard fleet of 9 car trains.

That’s before you talk about the double staffing required for a 10 car set.
 
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aiden_g1

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Completely agree. I know theres the argument that the smaller 5-car units would be utilised on routes/services in the day where demand may be lower and to be able to separate on to smaller "branch" lines. However, surely in the bigger scheme of things, that aspect of the argument is outweighed by the inconvenience of short forming of services to 5 cars on busier routes, the increased crew costs when doubling up, scheduling issues of stock etc etc... That's not to mention future proofing the capacity that a standard 9-car set fleet would have helped bring. Maybe once the manufacturing starts slowing down at the "AT300" plants, we could be lucky and see an order for additional coaches to rectify this issue.
 

WesternLancer

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Dreadful
Would a Labour Gov improve seat comfort ?
wasn't it a labour govt that started off the whole disastrous (financially) IET project to start with? I see to recall ££££s were spent before anything got any where near specifying the train in general, never mind the seats!
 

Ethano92

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There seems to be a lot of tweets lately with LNER replacing a 9 car with 10 cars, or vice Versa, or even a 9/10 car being replaced by 5 cars.

It’s blatantly obvious to me that they should have just ordered a standard fleet of 9 car trains.

That’s before you talk about the double staffing required for a 10 car set.
I thought the fleet has been replaced almost like for like with 9 car trains (maybe one or two less) however since not all the trains are yet in service you will have this variation. Once the fleet is fully rolled out shouldn't all the current services operating before the azuma be 9 cars. I might've got that all wrong.

I am genuinely interested in the views of these trains on the general public as we all know you are obviously more likely to comment if you had a negative experience meaning despite 1000 negative reviews, that could be only 2 train fulls worth of people which is nothing considering the amount of services operating daily. I genuinely think the general view might be "oh shiny new" or "I don't care, didn't notice the lights were that bright"

It would be interesting if they could take a first stop York service for example and make every single person on board give their opinions. Once for Azumas, once for mark 4, see what exactly the difference is. Of course there wouldn't be any incentive to do this since they aren't planning on changing things anyway.
 

trebor79

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For what it's worth, aside from the lack of a buffet I find the GWR IETs perfectly OK. Nice and roomy, good leg room and reasonably nice environment. The underfloor engines (which I usually detest) are practically unnoticeable.
Things I dislike are the window blinds, lack of luggage storage (which will be a real issue on LNER) and the lighting is a bit on the bright and stark side. The seats are just about OK, but then I've only sat in them for 2 hours at a stretch.
 

gsnedders

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I thought the fleet has been replaced almost like for like with 9 car trains (maybe one or two less) however since not all the trains are yet in service you will have this variation. Once the fleet is fully rolled out shouldn't all the current services operating before the azuma be 9 cars. I might've got that all wrong.
You're right. There's about an equivalent number of 9-car IEPs to replace the HST/91+Mk4 sets (the IEP order is for the same number of 9-car diagrams as there are existing diagrams AIUI), all the 5-car IEPs are therefore capacity above and beyond what LNER already has.
 

bramling

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Completely agree. I know theres the argument that the smaller 5-car units would be utilised on routes/services in the day where demand may be lower and to be able to separate on to smaller "branch" lines. However, surely in the bigger scheme of things, that aspect of the argument is outweighed by the inconvenience of short forming of services to 5 cars on busier routes, the increased crew costs when doubling up, scheduling issues of stock etc etc... That's not to mention future proofing the capacity that a standard 9-car set fleet would have helped bring. Maybe once the manufacturing starts slowing down at the "AT300" plants, we could be lucky and see an order for additional coaches to rectify this issue.
And why stop at 9 carriages? This already compares disfavourably to the 11-carriage 390s on the WCML, so really we should be looking towards an equivalent length on the ECML, which allowing for the different lengths is 10 IEP carriages. It would be interesting to know how much infrastructure work would be required to facilitate that, especially in terms of stabling and outside the area where the 2x5 formations currently work.

I think over time the 5 cars will prove to be a mistake. It’s an extra layer of complexity operationally, making six potential train formations, as well as being wasteful in terms of paths. Splitting units off at the extremities introduces performance risks which a congested main line can do without. From a passenger point of view they’re awkward, as well as the need to duplicate staffing.

Time will tell if there’s a tidy-up, but we could of course end up with the problem of too many of the wrong sort of vehicle (driving cars).
 

jimm

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And why stop at 9 carriages? This already compares disfavourably to the 11-carriage 390s on the WCML, so really we should be looking towards an equivalent length on the ECML, which allowing for the different lengths is 10 IEP carriages. It would be interesting to know how much infrastructure work would be required to facilitate that, especially in terms of stabling and outside the area where the 2x5 formations currently work.

I think over time the 5 cars will prove to be a mistake. It’s an extra layer of complexity operationally, making six potential train formations, as well as being wasteful in terms of paths. Splitting units off at the extremities introduces performance risks which a congested main line can do without. From a passenger point of view they’re awkward, as well as the need to duplicate staffing.

Time will tell if there’s a tidy-up, but we could of course end up with the problem of too many of the wrong sort of vehicle (driving cars).
In what way does it compare unfavourably, exactly? A nine-car or 2x5 Azuma (never mind buffet-less GWR IETs) seats more passengers than an 11-car Pendolino. The toilets don't stink, etc.

If you lived in Lincoln, you might just take a different view about five-car sets - just the same as on a number of GWR services, that route will never support the extra costs of running nine-car, never mind 10-car trains all day.

Hull Trains and Grand Central, to take a couple of local examples, would not be viable operations if they were running long trains up and down half or more empty all the time. Franchised TOCs (and government-owned operators of last resort) are not immune from the same cost considerations.

And how exactly would splitting or joining a pair of sets at Leeds (during the period that has to allowed for reversal anyway) to serve, for example, both Skipton and Huddersfield pose a performance risk? We were told that the world would come to an end if splitting and joining happened for Cornish IETs at Plymouth on GWR, yet trains still seem to make it to and from Penzance somehow.
 

modernrail

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In what way does it compare unfavourably, exactly? A nine-car or 2x5 Azuma (never mind buffet-less GWR IETs) seats more passengers than an 11-car Pendolino. The toilets don't stink, etc.

If you lived in Lincoln, you might just take a different view about five-car sets - just the same as on a number of GWR services, that route will never support the extra costs of running nine-car, never mind 10-car trains all day.

Hull Trains and Grand Central, to take a couple of local examples, would not be viable operations if they were running long trains up and down half or more empty all the time. Franchised TOCs (and government-owned operators of last resort) are not immune from the same cost considerations.

And how exactly would splitting or joining a pair of sets at Leeds (during the period that has to allowed for reversal anyway) to serve, for example, both Skipton and Huddersfield pose a performance risk? We were told that the world would come to an end if splitting and joining happened for Cornish IETs at Plymouth on GWR, yet trains still seem to make it to and from Penzance somehow.
On the performance risk point, on the already busy/congested routes from Skipton and Huddersfield, there might be a significant risk of units not arriving aa planned to join at Leeds and so one unit arrives later than the time for the planned onward path to KX. Leeds is not the sort of station you want the first train to be blocking platform space, or the alternative of 5 carriages of passengers on the later service being chucked out to get on the next service, which will probably already be heavily loaded anyway. The other option, of the late unit contiuning to KX might not be viable due to the ECML being congested already. Even if it is allowed to continue to KX....will it get there in time to meet back up with its originally intended 'twin'.

I think it can be sometimes forgotten how congested the railway around Leeds/West Yorkshire is and also how easy it is for delays to pick up quickly because of the complete lack of grade seperation on most routes. Lots of routes have an akward mix of local and express (TPE, XC, LNER) running over the same 2 tracks. The announcement, 'sorry for the delay, stuck behind a slower moving local service' is very commonly heard!
 
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jopsuk

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There seems to be a lot of tweets lately with LNER replacing a 9 car with 10 cars, or vice Versa, or even a 9/10 car being replaced by 5 cars.

It’s blatantly obvious to me that they should have just ordered a standard fleet of 9 car trains.

That’s before you talk about the double staffing required for a 10 car set.
Agree, except 10 car with a large bike/large luggage area in one car between 1st and standard
 

jimm

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On the performance risk point, on the already busy/congested routes from Skipton and Huddersfield, there might be a significant risk of units not arriving aa planned to join at Leeds and so one unit arrives later than the time for the planned onward path to KX. Leeds is not the sort of station you want the first train to be blocking platform space, or the alternative of 5 carriages of passengers on the later service being chucked out to get on the next service, which will probably already be heavily loaded anyway. The other option, of the late unit contiuning to KX might not be viable due to the ECML being congested already. Even if it is allowed to continue to KX....will it get there in time to meet back up with its originally intended 'twin'.

I think it can be sometimes forgotten how congested the railway around Leeds/West Yorkshire is and also how easy it is for delays to pick up quickly because of the complete lack of grade seperation on most routes. Lots of routes have an akward mix of local and express (TPE, XC, LNER) running over the same 2 tracks. The announcement, 'sorry for the delay, stuck behind a slower moving local service' is very commonly heard!
None of which gets us away from the basic cost consideration of building, leasing and maintaining lots of extra coaches to satisfy the people whose fervent belief appears to be that if it's an express train the formation must be miles long all the time, no matter where it is operating or the time of day. We could go on about 'x, y or z might happen' all day long - the old GWR Class 800 thread was a classic in that regard. Plymouth, a station purpose-built for splitting and joining trains, supposedly couldn't cope with doing just that.

Does anyone seriously thinks that traffic at Lincoln is ever going to be on a scale that would justify laying on 620-seat trains to and from London every couple of hours all day? Hull Trains has been operating for almost 20 years, has a rather bigger key target market and is getting new five-car trains. I think that's what's called a bit of a clue as to the cost factors at work here when it comes to things like serving destinations beyond the core on LNER, GWR, or anywhere else.

If all big trains, all the time, was the approach adopted on GWR, that would require the provision of another 232 coaches - which would be getting on for 20,000 more seats. Even if the Tories and Labour both seem to have found the magic money tree forest somewhere, no one is ever going to pay for that kind of capacity overkill.

Nor is it going to allow an operator any flexibility to serve places that can fill plenty of seats on a limited London service each day, or try out a new route or type of service, at a low cost, and see what happens, if it is stuck with the costs of using a 600+ seat train from the word go.
 

modernrail

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None of which gets us away from the basic cost consideration of building, leasing and maintaining lots of extra coaches to satisfy the people whose fervent belief appears to be that if it's an express train the formation must be miles long all the time, no matter where it is operating or the time of day. We could go on about 'x, y or z might happen' all day long - the old GWR Class 800 thread was a classic in that regard. Plymouth, a station purpose-built for splitting and joining trains, supposedly couldn't cope with doing just that.

Does anyone seriously thinks that traffic at Lincoln is ever going to be on a scale that would justify laying on 620-seat trains to and from London every couple of hours all day? Hull Trains has been operating for almost 20 years, has a rather bigger key target market and is getting new five-car trains. I think that's what's called a bit of a clue as to the cost factors at work here when it comes to things like serving destinations beyond the core on LNER, GWR, or anywhere else.

If all big trains, all the time, was the approach adopted on GWR, that would require the provision of another 232 coaches - which would be getting on for 20,000 more seats. Even if the Tories and Labour both seem to have found the magic money tree forest somewhere, no one is ever going to pay for that kind of capacity overkill.

Nor is it going to allow an operator any flexibility to serve places that can fill plenty of seats on a limited London service each day, or try out a new route or type of service, at a low cost, and see what happens, if it is stuck with the costs of using a 600+ seat train from the word go.
I think the preference on West Yorkshire should be to alternate destinations with a lower frequency to each rather than splitting. Just a hunch but that would work out better from a performance perspective.

My preference would be for splitters as a higher frequency is always a nice thing but I just don't think the infrastructure is up to the job in that area. Time will tell I suppose.
 

47271

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Time will tell I suppose.
Exactly, we can harangue each other on this forum as much as we like, but this is the only way that we'll know for sure.

I haven't travelled on a sawn off Azuma yet, but what I will say on the subject is that the first time one of these things turns up in place of a full set and I have to stand for three hours I won't be happy. This has happened to me twice on GWR since the IETs were introduced. Less so recently to be fair.

Just my personal perspective as a mere passenger.
 
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ManOnATrain

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I really hope that LNER will take note of the comments made on this forum with regards to comfort of the seats. If they're absolutely horrendous in first class, I can't imagine how much more uncomfortble they could get in standard! I wish they'd kept the leather seating from the old trains.

It's like sitting on an ironing board. I also feel like my back is forced into a position which compromises the natural curve of the human spine.
 

Starmill

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If they're absolutely horrendous in first class, I can't imagine how much more uncomfortble they could get in standard!
To my own standard, both are intolerable for more than a few minutes.

I say this as someone who generally likes new trains and generally likes older trains less. For example the interiors of the class 185, 175 and 350/3 and /4 are among my favourites, and they're all contemporary.

The classic HST interior, as seen on East Midlands Railway sets, is something I dislike. But it wasn't intolerable.
 
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With regards to the number of carriages Azumas have, I'm surprised they don't have 11.

The 225s and quite a few HSTs were 9 carriages plus the DVT and loco, or both the powercars in the HST's case. So surely there would have been room for 11 carriages at all stations.
The west coast main line had that increase in capacity with a lot of Pendolinos having 11 carriages.
 

Starmill

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With regards to the number of carriages Azumas have, I'm surprised they don't have 11.

The 225s and quite a few HSTs were 9 carriages plus the DVT and loco, or both the powercars in the HST's case. So surely there would have been room for 11 carriages at all stations. A lot of Pendolinos have 11 carriages after all.
An 11 car 800 would be nearly 300 metres long. Presumably this would necessitate longer extensions to platforms than have already been built.
 

jon0844

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I suppose if the ECML begins to suffer from capacity issues, they could be lengthened in the future should the need arise?
I wonder if the next capacity update comes from new signalling to reduce headways, followed by HS2 taking off some trains to allow for more capacity to serve local stations.

As such, trains may not need to be lengthened and the solution will be a higher service frequency?
 

Starmill

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They are longer vehicles so the actual no of seats might actually be more than in an 11 car pendo.
For reference, there are 444 standard class seats on an 11 car class 390. I think that a 5 car GWR class 800 has 270 standard class seats - which makes 540 in a double set. For what its worth, I think First-Trenitalia intend to increase the number of standard seats on the 11 car sets.
 

SpaldingMan

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There seems to be a lot of tweets lately with LNER replacing a 9 car with 10 cars, or vice Versa, or even a 9/10 car being replaced by 5 cars.

It’s blatantly obvious to me that they should have just ordered a standard fleet of 9 car trains.

That’s before you talk about the double staffing required for a 10 car set.
My son and I arrived at a very busy Peterborough Station on Saturday to catch the 10.09 LNER to KGX. We had received the usual email from LNER to inform us that the service would be 10 car and that we should check where to board on their website before we arrived on the platform. By chance on Saturday morning I looked on LNER’s website on their list of service alterations where I found that the 10 car had been replaced by a 9 car Azuma and that there would be no seat reservations. No announcement was made on the platform or on the train when it arrived. Fortunately we went to Coach A straight away to get empty seats together otherwise we would have been caught up in a large scrum of confused passengers. I realise this occurrence is more likely to happen whilst new stock is being introduced but why are not passengers being better advised before the train arrives and then when on board?
 

Swimbar

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To my own standard, both are intolerable for more than a few minutes.

I say this as someone who generally likes new trains and generally likes older trains less. For example the interiors of the class 185, 175 and 350/3 and /4 are among my favourites, and they're all contemporary.

The classic HST interior, as seen on East Midlands Railway sets, is something I dislike. But it wasn't intolerable.
I am sat in standard class in the rear 5 car unit of a 10.car set travelling from KX to Leeds at the moment.
I don't know what the fuss is about regarding the seats as I am comfortable in mine but the quality of the ride is terrible - certainly cant put anything on the tray without keeping hold of it all the time
 

Boysteve

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I witnessed 2x5 car Azuma's today at Harrogate. There were quite a few staff observing and it appeared to be performing all possible shunting moves at the station.
 

ohgoditsjames

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I am sat in standard class in the rear 5 car unit of a 10.car set travelling from KX to Leeds at the moment.
I don't know what the fuss is about regarding the seats as I am comfortable in mine but the quality of the ride is terrible - certainly cant put anything on the tray without keeping hold of it all the time
It’s interesting how opinions differ, I find the seats to be a bit too stiff (they’re fine for 15 mins or so) but the ride quality on the Airedale line to be comfortable, granted I’ve only ever sat in the front unit (weather that makes much difference).
 

Bletchleyite

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I am sat in standard class in the rear 5 car unit of a 10.car set travelling from KX to Leeds at the moment.
I don't know what the fuss is about regarding the seats as I am comfortable in mine but the quality of the ride is terrible - certainly cant put anything on the tray without keeping hold of it all the time
The issue with the seats I think is mainly noticeable to heavier people who crush the thin base cushion and can feel a support bar through it about 4" from the front of the seat. Lighter people are unlikely to notice it. That aside they aren't hugely dissimilar to something like the Grammer E3000 "Desiro seat" or FISA LEAN, both of which are decent.

All it would take to completely fix the issue would be a modified cushion with a bit of wood (or metal, if fire resistance would be an issue) on the bottom of it.
 

Chris125

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I haven't travelled on a sawn off Azuma yet, but what I will say on the subject is that the first time one of these things turns up in place of a full set and I have to stand for three hours I won't be happy. This has happened to me twice on GWR since the IETs were introduced. Less so recently to be fair.
Is half a train not better than no train at all, and a perhaps lengthy wait till the next service? That might well be the alternative.
 

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