London North Eastern Railway (LNER) has announced that its new Aycliffe-built Azuma services will be introduced between Middlesbrough and London King’s Cross from Monday, December 13.
The daily weekday service in each direction will be LNER’s first direct link between Middlesbrough and the capital and will also connect nearby Thornaby directly with London King’s Cross.
The Azuma services will be the first wave of new LNER trains between Teesside and London.
It will see one of LNER’s new Azuma trains – manufactured at Hitachi’s train assembling facility on Aycliffe Business Park – leave Middlesbrough at 7.08am each morning, arriving at 10.22am, with a return service from London’s Kings Cross at 3.25pm.
Advance single tickets will start at £20.60, with first class from £60.
More regular, direct services are planned by LNER in the future following the completion of further Middlesbrough station works which are currently being drawn up by Network Rail.
LNER managing director David Horne said: “Our new Azuma services will not only help transform the customer experience for those who travel between Middlesbrough and London but open up new economic opportunities for the town and wider area.
“The new, direct services from December will see journey times of around three hours between London and Middlesbrough, offering more opportunities for business travel, tourists and international visitors wanting to travel to the Tees Valley.”
Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen said: “I’m delighted people from across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool now have the option to book direct services from Middlesbrough to London for business or pleasure.
“This connection will prove ever more critical as we take advantage of all of the opportunities our Teesside freeport, the UK’s biggest, will bring.
“It will help strengthen ties between the freeport, our towns and our capital to show businesses all the benefits of being based right here, and help our local companies forge new partnerships.
“This is all the more important as we look to recover our regional and national economies following the coronavirus pandemic.”
Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald said: “I very much welcome the start of the direct rail service from Middlesbrough to London.
“I have been campaigning for this ever since my election in 2012 so it’s great to see the service starting.
“But this has to be just the start and I look forward to more frequent services starting up as soon as possible. Being connected to our capital city will be a huge positive for jobs and for our local economy.”
Middlesbrough mayor Andy Preston added: “I’m definitely booking a ticket! I’m so pleased that this is finally happening – loads of hard work has been put into it. Well done to everyone involved.
“A direct rail service to the capital definitely won’t transform Middlesbrough’s economy alone, but it definitely will support many other positive developments we are driving forward in and around our town centre. It’s just further proof that Middlesbrough is a town on the up.”
With no change required for those travelling on the new services, customers can make the most of their travel time, whether it is making use of the free Wi-Fi to catch up on emails or enjoying an excellent range of refreshments served straight to them with LNER becoming the first train operator to introduce the ‘Let’s Eat at Your Seat’ service in Standard, complementing the Cafe Bar.
Advance single tickets between Middlesbrough and London start from £20.60 in Standard or £60 in First Class when booked online at lner.co.uk
To ensure customers can travel with confidence, record levels of enhanced cleaning continue to be carried out onboard LNER trains and managed stations.
The Azuma fleet offers significant environmental benefits.
The bi-mode Azuma trains will run using overhead electric wires between London and Northallerton then operate under diesel power to and from Middlesbrough.