UK: London to Scotland overnight train operator Caledonian Sleeper put the first of its new fleet of CAF coaches into service on April 28.
The Mk V vehicles built in northern Spain are initially being used on the Lowlander route from London to Glasgow and Edinburgh. The Highlander route between London and Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William is expected to be operated with new vehicles by the end of May.
Caledonian Sleeper has also launched a ‘Dream Big’ marketing campaign across digital and outdoor advertising platforms with the aim of attracting new passengers to the revitalised service.
The operator is aiming to compete with the cost of a flight plus a hotel, with the trains being designed to offer a hotel-style environment, including double beds and options with en-suite toilets and showers. The traditional method of selling tickets per passenger is being partly replaced by selling per compartment.
International tourism is seen as a potential opportunity for ridership growth, with the ability to travel overnight between central London and Scotland expected to prove attractive to visitors from North America and Asia in particular.
‘The overriding ambition has been to deliver on our vision of a Caledonian Sleeper service fit for today’s traveller, one that combines the modern facilities people expect with that feeling of nostalgia that comes from long-distance railway travel’, said Caledonian Sleeper Managing Director Ryan Flaherty. ‘We want guests to have a magical journey with us, whether they are travelling for business or for pleasure.’
|New Caledonian Sleeper fleet accommodation types|
|Classic Rooms||Solo or shared use with an option of interconnecting rooms, toiletries included||£140 solo, £170 shared|
|Club Rooms||Solo or shared use with en suite toilet and shower, station lounge access, breakfast, luxury toiletries included||£205 solo, £250 shared|
|Caledonian Doubles||Double bed with en suite toilet and shower, station lounge access, breakfast, luxury toiletries included||£335 solo, £400 shared|
|Accessible Rooms||Double or twin, toiletries included|
The new fleet of 75 coaches of five types was ordered by Serco in March 2015 at cost of around €200m, after it won the contract to operate the Caledonian Sleeper service for 15 years from April 2015. The order was financed by the Caledonian Sleepers Rail Leasing Ltd subsidiary of Lombard North Central plc, with a £60m capital grant from the Scottish government and £50m from the UK government.
The styling of the coaches was overseen by interior designer Ian Smith, with the patterns reflecting a ‘contemporary Scotland’ theme. Dellner couplers are fitted and are expected to provide a smoother and quieter journey, while removing the need for shunters to climb onto the tracks when the trains split and join.