The design-critique blog Brand New last week reviewed the new look of LNER, a British railway with a nearly century-old history under various names and owners. The most recent owner was Virgin, which operated the line as Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC); the railway is now owned by the UK’s Department of Transport, and the LNER acronym – which stands for London North East Railroad – is appearing again for the first time since 1948.
The point of the review was, of course, the new LNER logo, but what caught my eye was a paragraph about three-quarters of the way down about the newest fleet of trains. Brand New says they’re “nicknamed” Azuma, but in fact Azuma is their official name.
Moreover, “Azuma” isn’t entirely new; the LNER/Azuma identity designer, Brand Cooke, tells us that it had been developed by VTEC – in 2016, according to a Wikipedia page – and was already familiar to passengers.
But what does this un-British-sounding name signify?