How to…

How to debut a new train

July 17, 2019

Roger Williams, chair of rail catering trade association IRCG, discovers how LNER prepared for the launch of its breakthrough ‘Azumas’.

Pick your rolling stock
LNER, Britain’s East Coast high-speed intercity railway, is famous for legendary trains such as the Flying Scotsman. Now it has a new star – Azuma – meaning east in Japanese.The fleet of 65 new trains will add 12,200 seats a day to the fleet.

Prepare to impress
Incorporating Japanese bullet train tech, capable of 140mph, they were assembled by Hitachi near Darlington on LNER’s route, fitting nicely with the story that LNER has built around its new ‘Hero Chef’ onboard service offer – one of investing in local communities, local provenance and sustainability.

Build for change
Catering layouts were chosen at the train design stage five years ago. Because trends change, LNER’s team worked with Hitachi to evolve capabilities. For example, they have invested in a café bar that wasn’t in the original spec. Every factor of customer service was updated, including new menus, service equipment training, communications and logistics.

Set the scene
The train features a First Class galley, capable of providing the ‘Hero Chef’ hot meals, and housing 14 carts (six refrigerated and eight ambient), including programmable Convotherm ovens and Bravilor tea and coffee makers. A Café Bar In the middle of Standard Class offers hot and cold food and speciality coffees.

Empower your heroes
There are over 800 onboard service staff with around 400 on the initial routes for Azuma. Azuma Pioneers were recruited internally and it spent several months training crews on trial trains. Hero Chefs were chosen from LNER’s experienced onboard teams and helped select new products with food experts RG, LNER’s catering & logistics partner.

Invest in logistics
Logistics catering partner RG worked to bring all the new ‘Hero Chef’ menus and products into the supply chain and loaded the first new train at Kings Cross before departure. Over 250 RG staff will be trained to work with the train too.