YORK rail operator LNER's new Azuma trains are finally set to come into service on the East Coast Mainline in May, about six months later than originally planned.

The operator says the trains have been through rigorous testing with engineers and technical staff from Hitachi Rail, Network Rail and the Department for Transport to ensure they will meet high standards.

Managing director David Horne said the first Azuma will run on the London King’s Cross to Leeds route on May 15. Further trains will subsequently come into service on the rest of the route -including York.

“This is what customers up and down the country have been waiting for and represents a monumental milestone for rail travel," said Mr Horne.

The Azumas will mean more seats and services, but substantial work has been needed across the rail network to update equipment and technology to allow for their introduction.

They were set to be launched by the end of last year, but hit a series of hitches, with testing on the line north of York halted because of electromagnetic interference between them and line-side equipment.