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I’m currently heading to Doncaster from Leeds aboard one of LNER’s new ‘Azuma’ trains, the second one in two days. I’m just as impressed as I was yesterday and could certainly get used to these. That said – I’ll have to as they’re the future of East Coast travel and they’ll see me out as I’d be over 100 by the time they come up for replacement!


Today’s very much a new train day as I’m meeting up with RAIL’s Richard Clinnick to have a look at Northern’s new Class 331 EMUs. The first two of which will go into public service between Doncaster and Leeds on the 1st July.


It’s been a busy day at the Class 331 train launch. I’ve not had chance to blog until now, so here’s a few pictures from the event and on-board the train, which you can sample for yourselves from Monday.


L-R: Richard Allan, Northern Rail deputy MD. Chris Burchill, MD of Arriva. Andrew Jones MP, Rail Minister, at the Class 331 launch this morning.


A view of one of the passenger saloons.


It’s a step-change from a Pacer!


Disabled seating/wheelchair area adjacent to the accessible toilet.


The same area as above from the side.


The vestibules are wide and spacious, with tip-up seats at one side.


Looking through the gangway into the next car. There are no internal doors, giving a feeling of spaciousness


Rail Minister Andrew Jones MP being interviewed by the BBC.


Our train after arriving at Leeds.

The weather’s so good I’ve stayed at Doncaster for a while getting library shots. The rail scene is going to change dramatically over the next year as the LNER Mk4 sets and HSTs disappear, along with the Nirthern Pacers and Hull Trains Class 180s, so I’m getting shots whilst I can.

Our trip on the CAF built 331 went really well. They have great acceleration and braking – as you’d hope for from 100mph units. The interior’s a step-change to anything Northern’s had before. Unlike the 158s there’s plenty of legroom, both in the airline seats and table bays. The old table bays could be a bugger to get out of as your legs could get trapped. The vestibules are roomy, with some tie-up seats provided. My only observation was they’re so wide it would be difficult to find something to hold onto if you’re in the middle and it’s crowded.

Seats are always a contentious issue with some. My personal view is the seats on these units are comfortable with good lumbar support and the airline ones have big, solid seat back tables. The seats were chosen in a competition by the public who were given a choice of three different versions. The same ones are used in the refurbished class 158s.


I’m finally on my way home from Leeds. It’s Friday, the traditional day for the ECML to break. So it did today with my train from Doncaster being 35 mins late. On the bright side, it was another ‘Azuma’ so the air-conditioning worked – which is more than I can say for the unrefurbished Class 158 I’m on now! I ended up getting way laid in Leeds watching the British Transport Police carrying out an operation where they had a heavy presence along with a metal detector in an effort to combat knife crimes. After observing for a while I popped into the adjacent Sainsbury’s, where I had one of those totally random experiences that offer an insight into the world. I bought a sandwich and paid at a till staffed by a young Asian girl. Nothing unusual in that as Yorkshire has a significant Asian population. Except for the fact that – as we spoke, I realised she had an Irish accent! I’d have loved to have stopped and spoken to her, explaining why I was interested and ask how and why but the place was busy and in some ways it’s a bit awkward in these Brexity times.