UK: The first five of the 75 coaches that CAF is building for Caledonian Sleeper services between Scotland and London have arrived at the Velim test centre in the Czech Republic, where they will undergo several weeks of dynamic testing.

The two seating cars, two sleeping cars and a club car were sent by road from CAF’s factory at Beasain in northern Spain to Hendaye in France, from where they continued to Velim by rail. Once testing at Velim is completed, they will be transported to Polmadie depot in Glasgow via the Channel Tunnel. Static testing in the UK is expected to get underway before the end of the year, followed by dynamic tests.

The order for the new fleet was placed by Serco when it won the Caledonian Sleeper operating contract in 2014. The investment of more than £100m is being part-funded by a £60m capital grant from the Scottish government. Entry into service is planned for 2018.

The styling of the coaches has been overseen by interior designer Ian Smith, with the patterns reflecting a ‘contemporary Scotland’ theme. The will be four types of accommodation, with reclining seats, berths, en suite berths and double rooms with toilets and showers. All passengers will have mobile device charging facilities and on-board wi-fi, while the compartments will have key card entry systems. There will also be a ‘brasserie style club car’.

‘It’s great to see the first of the new carriages on the move’, said Peter Strachan, Chairman, UK Rail, at Serco on August 24. Designing a fleet of sleeping cars was ‘extremely challenging and complex’, he said, and ‘we still have a lot of work to do to successfully bring the new sleeper fleet into service next year, but I am really excited about the quality of experience we will be able to offer our guests when it arrives’.