Caledonian Sleeper is the collective name for overnight sleeper train services between London and Scotland, in the United Kingdom. It is one of only two sleeper services on the railway in the United Kingdom (the other being the Night Riviera between London and Penzance). Two services depart London each night from Sunday to Friday and travel via the West Coast Main Line to Scotland. The earlier departure divides at Edinburgh into portions for Aberdeen, Fort William and Inverness. The later departure serves Edinburgh and Glasgow splitting at Carstairs. Five London-bound portions depart from these destinations each night, combining into two trains at Edinburgh and Carstairs.
|Franchise(s)||Part of ScotRail (National Express) 31 March 1997 - 16 October 2004|
Part of First ScotRail 17 October 2004 - 30 March 2015
Standalone franchise operated by Serco (31 March 2015 – 31 March 2030)
|Main region(s)||West Coast Main Line|
Edinburgh to Aberdeen Line
Highland Main Line
West Highland Line
|Fleet size||75 Mark 5 carriages|
|Stations called at||46|
The Caledonian Sleeper's London terminus is London Euston.
Since April 2015, the Caledonian Sleeper has been a standalone franchise operated by Serco. Prior to this it was part of the ScotRail franchise. In 2017 Serco revealed details of a £150m revamp of the Caledonian Sleeper, with en-suite cabins and double beds, with new Mark 5 carriages introduced in April 2019.
Anglo-Scottish sleepers up to 1996Edit
In February 1873 the North British Railway revealed the first sleeping car in Britain. It had been built by the Ashbury Carriage Company and was displayed at Glasgow, Edinburgh and London King's Cross. It became the first sleeping carriage used on British railways when it made a revenue earning trip on 24 February 1873 attached to a train at Glasgow for King’s Cross via the East Coast Main Line.
On 1 October 1873 the rival Caledonian Railway introduced a London and North Western Railway sleeping car on mail trains three days per week between Glasgow Buchanan Street and London Euston via the West Coast Main Line. The service ran from Glasgow on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and from London on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. An extra charge of ten shillings was made for a sleeping berth.
Sleeping car services operated on both the West and East coast routes to multiple destinations until the East coast were withdrawn in May 1988. For example, in 1976, services from King's Cross ran to Edinburgh and Aberdeen, and from Euston to Glasgow Central, Perth, Inverness, Stranraer Harbour, and Fort William. There was also a service from Bristol Temple Meads to Glasgow and Edinburgh via the West Coast route.
InterCity planned to remove all seating accommodation on the remaining services from May 1992, however it instead concluded a deal with Stagecoach to retain the Mark 2 seating carriages however the Stagecoach carriages were withdrawn after 12 months.
Responsibility for operation of the Anglo-Scottish services passed within British Rail from InterCity West Coast to ScotRail on 5 March 1995. British Rail had proposed to cease operating the Fort William portion, however the Highland Regional Council successfully sought a stay pending a formal consultation, after the Scottish Court of Session ruled that the correct service closure process had not been followed. Eventually British Rail agreed to retain the Fort William portion, but it was reduced from four sleeping carriages to one. The associated motorail service was withdrawn in 1995.
The Caledonian SleeperEdit
The overnight service was relaunched as the Caledonian Sleeper from 4 June 1996. Each portion had its own identity, with the Night Caledonian to Glasgow, Night Scotsman to Edinburgh, Night Aberdonian to Aberdeen, Royal Highlander to Inverness and West Highlander to Fort William. On 31 March 1997 it become part of the ScotRail franchise which was initially operated by National Express. They continued to use the Mark 3 sleeping cars that had been operated by British Rail but did not have suitable locomotives. These were hired from Virgin Trains until March 1998 when English, Welsh and Scottish Railway (EWS) took on the contract.
Seated carriages were added to the sleeping cars from January 2000 using 11 former Virgin Trains Mark 2 carriages that were refurbished at Wolverton Works and fitted with first class-style reclining seats. At the same time the sleeping cars were refurbished and given ScotRail's purple and blue livery.
The ScotRail franchise (including the Caledonian Sleeper service) was transferred to FirstGroup on 17 October 2004. The rolling stock and locomotive contracts remained unchanged however the carriages and three EWS Class 90 locomotives were painted in FirstGroup's corporate blue, pink and white livery.
In 2012 the Scottish Government announced that as part of the reletting of the ScotRail franchise from April 2015, the Caledonian Sleeper would be operated by a separate franchise. In June 2013, Transport Scotland announced Arriva, FirstGroup and Serco had been shortlisted to bid for the new franchise. The franchise was awarded to Serco in May 2014. They were to invest £100 million in new trains including 'en suite' rooms and a new style of club car. Existing Mark 2 and Mark 3 coaching stock was to be replaced by 2018. Serco Caledonian Sleepers Limited took over the operation of the train on 31 March 2015.
In December 2015 staff called a two-day strike because of health and safety concerns with the trains then in use.
Caledonian Sleeper destinations
Two trains are operated on six days each week (not Saturday night/Sunday morning). The Highland Sleeper has three portions that serve routes to Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William. The Lowland Sleeper has two portions serving routes to Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central. The trains normally operate at a maximum speed of 80 miles per hour (130 km/h), but are authorised to travel at 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) where line speeds permit if the train has been delayed by more than 20 minutes.
Trains use the West Coast Main Line between Scotland and London, using London Euston as their terminus. Sunday services are sometimes diverted via the East Coast Main Line when the West Coast route is closed for engineering work. In these cases they still use London Euston except when the station itself is closed, or there is no possible routing into the station during engineering works, in which case they use nearby London King's Cross instead.
The first of each night's services leaves London Euston at 21:15 (20:57 Sunday), calling at Watford Junction, Crewe and Preston to pick up passengers, and arrives at Edinburgh Waverley approximately six-and-a-half hours after leaving London. The electric Class 92 locomotive is uncoupled and replaced by a Class 73/9 diesel locomotive for each of the three portions, to Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William.
The front two sleeping carriages on arrival at Edinburgh are for Fort William, being combined at Edinburgh with two sitting carriages to make a four carriage train. The middle portion of six carriages is for Aberdeen, and the rear portion of eight carriages is for Inverness. Both the Aberdeen and Inverness portions usually convey one sitting and one lounge carriage each, with the rest being sleeping cars, all working through to/from London.
On the southbound service south, the Aberdeen, Fort William and Inverness portions join at Edinburgh to form one train calling at Preston, Crewe and London Euston for alighting passengers only.
The second of the services leaves London Euston at 23:50 (23:27 Sunday), calling at Watford Junction to pick up only. Passengers can alight at Carlisle and at Carstairs (from the Glasgow section), where the train divides, the rear portion going to Edinburgh, the front portion to Motherwell and Glasgow Central.
The southbound services from Glasgow/Motherwell and Edinburgh join at Carstairs where passengers can board the Glasgow portion, then call at Carlisle to pick up only, setting down at Watford Junction and London Euston the following morning.
- Pick up only in northbound direction, no southbound service
- Pick up only in northbound direction, set-down only in southbound direction
- southbound only
- northbound only
The ScotRail franchise inherited the coaches used by British rail, Mark 3 sleeping coaches and Mark 2 seated carriages, some of which were fitted out as lounge cars where refreshments could be obtained. In 2019 these were replaced by Mark 5 carriages. These operated on the Lowland services from April and the Highland services from October. Heavy maintenance on the carriage stock was performed at Inverness until April 2015, when the work was contracted out to Alstom and transferred to Polmadie.
Two types of motive power are used for the Caledonian Sleeper. On the electrified routes between Glasgow/Edinburgh and London electric locomotives haul the trains. There were none of these included in the ScotRail franchises, instead they contracted Virgin Trains to provide Class 87s. These were replaced by English, Welsh and Scottish Railway (EWS) Class 90s in March 1998. Serco now have a contract with GB Railfreight who use Class 92s, however mechanical problems saw locomotives hired in from a number of sources including DB Cargo UK (the successor to EWS), Freightliner and Harry Needle Railroad Company. From 2015 until 2019 AC Locomotive Group heritage Class 86s and 87s were used to move empty carriages in London and Glasgow and occasionally operated the overnight passenger services.
On the unelectrified routes in Scotland, the trains were hauled by EWS Class 37s to Fort William and 47s to Aberdeen and Inverness until June 2001 when Class 67s began to replace the 47s. The 67s were also used on the Fort William route from June 2006. Four locomotives (67004/007/009/011) were fitted with cast iron brakes and restricted to 80 miles per hour (130 km/h) for this additional service. When GB Railfreight started to provide the trains and crews for the Serco franchise in 2015, it was planned to use rebuilt Class 73/9s. The first of these came into service in February 2016 but the Class 67s continued to be used on some services for another couple of years.
|Class||Image||Type||Top speed||Fleet size||Numbers||Usage||Built|
|Class 73/9||Electro-diesel locomotive||90||145||6||73966–71||Edinburgh - Aberdeen/Fort William||1962, 1965-7|
|Class 92||Electric locomotive||87||140||7||92006, 92010, 92014, 92018, 92023, 92033, 92038||London - Glasgow/Edinburgh||1993-6|
|Mark 5 carriage||Carriage||100||161||75||Full Network||2016-2018|
Former train types operated by Caledonian Sleeper include:
|Trainset||Class||Image||Top speed||Fleet Size||Carriages||Usage||Built||Withdrawn||Notes|
|Class 37/4||Diesel-electric locomotive||90||140||Varying locos from owner pool.||Edinburgh - Fort William||1960-1965||2006||Replaced by Class 67.|
|Class 67||Diesel-electric locomotive||125||200||Varying locos from owner pool.||Edinburgh - Inverness||1999-2000||2019||Returned to DB Cargo UK after hire period.|
|Class 86||Electric Locomotive||110||177||1||86101||London - Edinburgh/Glasgow Sleeper Portions.
Empty Coaching Stock (London - Wembley)
|1965-6||Returned to AC Locomotive Group after hire period.|
|Class 87||110||177||87002||London - Edinburgh/Glasgow Sleeper Portions.
Empty Coaching Stock (London - Wembley)
|Class 90||-||Varying Locos from both Freightliner Fleets.||London - Glasgow/Edinburgh||1987–90||Returned to Freightliner after hire period.|
|Mark 2 carriage||Lounge car
|100||160||22||Full Network||1969-74||Now scrapped or preserved, replaced by Mark 5 carriages.|
|Mark 3 carriage||Sleeping car||125||200||53||1975-88|
New Mark 5 carriages were introduced in April 2019 but the inaugural journey was more than three hours late arriving at London Euston Other services in 2019 were reported as delayed due to "technical faults"
Services run joined together between London and Scotland where they are split into shorter trains to serve multiple destinations. After being split at Carstairs on 1 August 2019, the Edinburgh portion ran through Edinburgh Waverley as the brakes failed to engage. The incident is being investigated by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch.
Suggested future servicesEdit
In 2017, the Highlands and Islands Strategic Transport Partnership (HITRANS) began discussions with Caledonian Sleeper about the idea of additional services beyond the current Highland and Lowland Sleepers from London, with the primary suggestion being a service connecting Glasgow and Edinburgh with Inverness, and then on to Wick and Thurso. The displacement of the existing Mark 2 and Mark 3 vehicles by the new Mark 5 rolling stock would provide sufficient coaches of reasonable quality to allow such a service to run. In 2018, this proposal was elaborated on with the publication of an outline timetable that would see a nightly service from Glasgow calling at Edinburgh and then along the Highland Main Line to Inverness, where a portion would be detached to go north, terminating at Thurso to connect with the ferry to Orkney, with a southbound service undertaking the journey in reverse. This plan would see trains using a mix of Mark 3 sleeper coaches, Mark 2 day coaches and a DVT, which could be used for small amounts of parcels traffic.
- "Sleeping Cars on Railways". Huddersfield Chronicle. England. 15 February 1873. Retrieved 31 August 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive.
- "Sleeping Carriage". Derbyshire Courier. England. 1 March 1873. Retrieved 31 August 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive.
- "Caledonian Railway. Sleeping Carriage to London". Glasgow Herald. England. 15 October 1873. Retrieved 31 August 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive.
- "The Glasgow Herald - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
- "No sleepers on ECML". The Railway Magazine (1049): 690. 1 November 1987.
- Great Britain Time Table, May 1976, tables 26 and 65
- "Stagecoach, InterCity Launch Trend-setting Marketing Deal" The Railway Magazine issue 1093 May 1992 page 6
- "Stagecoach Rail Livery Unveiled" The Railway Magazine issue 1094 June 1992 page 10
- "The Stagecoach Story" Rail issue 286 28 August 1996 pages 34-37
- "Inverness depot to remain open" The Railway Magazine issue 1128 April 1995 page 31
- "Sleeper cuts to go ahead" Rail Privatisation News issue 23 March 1995 page 4
- "Court rules on Fort William Sleeper" Rail issue 253 24 May 1995 page 6
- "BR loses appeal over W Highlands sleeper" Rail issue 255 21 June 1995 page 8
- "Fort William sleeper reprieved" Rail issue 262 27 September 1995 page 6
- "Thirty years of the Mk 3 sleepers" Rail Express issue 190 March 2012 pages 14-21
- "Caledonian Sleepers relaunched" Rail Privatisation News issue 33 27 June 1996 page 4
- "Sleeper service relaunch" Rail issue 283 17 July 1996 page 11
- "ScotRail prize goes to National Express" The Railway Magazine issue 1152 April 1997 page 9
- "EWS to power ScotRail sleepers" The Railway Magazine issue 1164 April 1998 page 60
- "EWS starts electric Sleeper operations" Rail issue 328 8 April 1998 page 59
- "EWS and ScotRail agree Class 67s for sleepers" The Railway Magazine issue 1219 November 2002 page 71
- "ScotRail sleepers - seats for all at £7m" Rail issue 356 5 May 1999 page 8
- "Scotrail refurbishes day coaches for sleepers" Rail issue 371 1 December 1999 page 11
- "Seat back on sleeper trains for ScotRail" Rail issue 377 23 February 2000 page 11
- "ScotRail's Caledonian Sleepers go purple" Rail Express issue 41 October 1999 page 54
- "ScotRail sleeper upgrade" The Railway Magazine issue 1182 October 1999 page 63
- FirstGroup clinches Scottish rail franchise The Daily Telegraph 12 June 2004
- Operating enhancements for First Scotrail sleeper to be delivered by EWS and Axiom Rail English Welsh & Scottish 26 May 2006
- "Hybrid identity for Scottish Class 90s" Rail issue 541 7 June 2006 page 7
- "EWS paints first Class 90 for ScotRail" Today's Railways issue 55 July 2006 page 51
- "Class 90 gets First Group livery" The Railway Magazine issue 1266 October 2006 page 7
- Scottish rail services plan outlined by government BBC News 21 June 2012
- "Scotland to split Sleepers from next ScotRail franchise" Rail issue 700 11 July 2012 page 8
- Caledonian sleeper train service bidders named BBC News 28 June 2013
- Serco wins franchise for Caledonian sleeper train service BBC News 28 May 2014
- "Serco awarded contract to run the famous Caledonian Sleeper railway line". The Independent. 28 May 2014.
- "Strike halts Caledonian Sleeper train". The Guardian. 22 December 2015.
- Brand new Caledonian Sleeper trains from 2018 Archived 4 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine Serco 17 February 2015
- New £150m Caledonian Sleeper train arrives three hours late BBC News 29 April 2019
- Caledonian Sleeper launches new CAF coaches Railway Gazette International 29 April 2019
- Alstom to maintain sleeper trains in the UK Alstom 12 February 2015
- GB Railfreight boosts rail services business with Serco Caledonian Sleeper contract Europorte 17 February 2015
- Serco signs GB Railfreight to run Scots sleeper services BBC News 17 February 2015
- "The Sleepers are stirring" Rail issue 756 3 September 2014 page 70
- "Class 90s for Sleepers until 92s prove their reliability Rail issue 783 16 September 2015 page 10
- "Caledonian Sleeper uses Class 86s" Railway Magazine issue 797 30 March 2016 page 28
- Preservation 2015 AC Locomotive Group
- "Repaint into Midnight Teal livery" Rail issue 771 1 April 2015 page 29
- "86/4 to receive Sleeper livery" Rail issue 776 10 June 2015 page 27
- "Rebuilt 73/9s take over all Caledonian Sleeper work" Rail issue 805 20 July 2016 page 32
- "HML morning sleeper"  Steven Crozier, Flikr 30 June 2018
- "Caledonian Sleeper: Passengers stranded in Preston after train breaks down". The Independent. 9 August 2019.
- "Loss of brake control on a passenger train approaching Edinburgh Waverley". RAIB. 12 August 2019.
- "Rail sleeper plan between Caithness and Edinburgh". www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
- "THURSO - GLASGOW SLEEPER PLAN" Modern Railways Volume 74 Number 822 March 2017 page 16
- Haigh, Philip (14 February 2018). "Outline timetable unveiled for Thurso Sleeper services plan". Rail (846): 16–17.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Caledonian Sleeper.|
ScotRail (British Rail)
| Sub-brand of ScotRail franchise
1997 - 2004
ScotRail (National Express)
| Sub-brand of ScotRail franchise
2004 - 2015
Caledonian Sleeper franchise
| Operator of Caledonian Sleeper franchise
2015 - present