Overview

The Caledonian Sleeper service operates overnight rail passenger services in both directions between London Euston and each of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen and Fort William.

Scottish Ministers made the decision to let the Caledonian Sleeper franchise separately from ScotRail, allowing a greater focus on the development of the service.

The current Caledonian Sleeper franchise was awarded to Serco Caledonian Sleepers Limited (SCSL) in May 2014. SCSL took over the operation of The Caledonian Sleeper on 31 March 2015; it had previously been incorporated within the ScotRail franchise.

Sleeper operations comprise two services in each direction to and from London Euston: the Lowlander combines services from Glasgow and Edinburgh; the Highlander combines services from Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William. Overall, Caledonian Sleeper serves 48 stations: 43 in Scotland, 5 in England. Route and timetable information is available.

The Caledonian Sleeper services are a key part of Scotland’s transport mix, providing unique journey opportunities. It is our ambition that the services offered - in terms of quality, catering and hospitality - are emblematic of the best of Scotland.

Franchise operations are supported by Scottish Government subsidy. Additionally there is a £60 million capital grant supporting the development of new trains, and £6 million was made available for station enhancements.

You can find out more about the franchise and plan your journey on the official website for Serco Caledonian Sleepers Limited. A copy of the Caledonian Sleeper Travel Guide is available, describing Caledonian Sleeper services.

Franchise benefits

Train Fleet

Caledonian Sleeper's train fleet comprises sleeping and lounge cars dating from the 1970s and 1980s.

By summer 2019, an entirely new fleet of trains will be operated by Caledonian Sleeper; 75 new carriages have been constructed by Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) in Spain and are currently undergoing final preparations to enter service. They will bring a step change in quality and will feature en suite berths, double beds and enhanced accessible berths. Significantly enhanced catering equipment will enable a much greater selection of food to be served in the club car than at present.

Supporting Scottish Businesses

A unique feature of the franchisee’s successful bid was a commitment to spend an increasing percentage of its annual hospitality and catering spend with small and medium enterprises that supply Scottish cuisine and other Scottish products. Scottish companies that are benefitting directly from the Caledonian Sleeper include:

  • Arran Aromatics, which supplies guest toiletry packs for first class guests
  • Food and Drink Hub in Cumbernauld, which supplies food and beverages on board
  • Ten30 of Ayr, suppliers of Caledonian Sleeper uniforms
  • PlanitScotland of Invergordon, which runs club car theme nights

Franchise commitments

Performance

From Year 4 of the franchise onwards (i.e. from April 2018), Serco Caledonian Sleeper Ltd is required to achieve a Right Time target of 80% of its services arriving at their final destination within 59 seconds of their advertised time – measured on a moving annual average basis. This was an increase from the 75% target, which was meeting comfortably, for the first three years of the franchise.  At the beginning of Year 4, it was not initially achieving the increased target, but  a Performance Improvement Plan succeeded in enhancing performance to the extent that the Caledonian Sleeper is now operating ahead of its performance target.

Stations

As part of its Franchise commitments, Caledonian Sleeper has delivered a range of improvements to stations served by its trains, including improvements to waiting areas and greater access to waiting rooms and toilets in evenings and early mornings. Digital Information Totems have been installed at 35 stations served by the Caledonian Sleeper, with a further three to be installed at London Euston, Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley. These provide information on train running and onward transport connections, and feature a two-way video link with the Caledonian Sleeper guest service centre in Inverness.

Dedicated passenger lounges have been opened at Inverness, Dundee, Lcuchars, Perth, Stirling and Fort William. These include accessible toilets and shower facilities for guests. The facilities at Perth have, along with meeting and training facilities for Caledonian Sleeper staff, brought back into use a long-redundant station building.  This was recognised by the Railway Heritage Trust, which made a £200,000 contribution towards the £1.6m construction of the facilities.

Objectives and specifications

Franchise objectives

The Scottish Ministers have set out the objectives for the Caledonian Sleeper rail franchise. The franchise is expected to:

  • deliver a compelling product improvement, transforming the passenger experience
  • combine quality enhancements with improved marketing and retailing in order to grow patronage
  • achieve and internationally renowned service that is emblematic of the best of Scotland, fostering brand awareness in Britain and among international visitors
  • improve station facilities at key calling-point stations in Scotland
  • support efficient integrated onward connections by all modes of transport
  • manage the business and investment to deliver better value for Transport Scotland and customers, maximising the benefits achieved through the subsidy

Documents relating to the Caledonian Sleeper franchise agreement can be found in the Public Register.