Caledonian Sleeper Franchise


Emergency Measures Agreement

In April 2020 the Scottish Government put in place an Emergency Measures Agreement (EMA) which made a temporary variation to the Caledonian Sleeper franchise agreement. This minimised disruption to passengers and rail employees during the COVID-19 outbreak and allowed rail passenger services to continue to operate during this period. The EMA expired in September 2020. A further EMA was put in place at that point and it will expire on 31 March 2021.

Recognising the continued significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and related public health measures on rail passenger services, work is now underway to put in place a further EMA for the period 1 April until September 2021.

Prior Information Notice – Caledonian Sleeper Franchise

As the scale and pace of the recovery from the impact of the pandemic remains uncertain, a Prior Information Notice (PIN) has been published on PCS. This is a technical measure that stems from relevant procurement requirements.

This PIN is available at the link below and has been published as Ministers may, depending on circumstances and as set out in the PIN, wish to be able to make a direct award under Regulation 1370 / 2007, and not under the public procurement regime. By way of explanation, the references in the PIN to Directive 2014/24/EU, result from the requirements of the PCS portal rather than from procurement requirements in respect of a Temporary Measures Agreement, if awarded.

The Caledonian Sleeper service operates overnight rail passenger services between five separate destination/arrival points in Scotland and London Euston.

The current franchise was awarded to Serco Caledonian Sleepers Limited (SCSL) in May 2014, with the 15-year contract coming into effect on 31 March 2015. 

Sleeper operations comprise two services in each direction to and from London Euston: the Lowlander combines services from Glasgow and Edinburgh, while the Highlander combines services from Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William.

The Caledonian Sleeper serves 48 stations overall - 43 in Scotland and 5 in England - and is a key part of Scotland’s transport offering that delivers unique journey and tourism opportunities. It is our ambition that the services offered are emblematic of the best of Scotland, in terms of quality, catering and hospitality.

The franchise is worth £800 million over its 15-year franchise term. New trains operating over this period and beyond represent an investment of over £120 million.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson welcomed the new fleet into service in April 2019, saying: "The Caledonian Sleeper shows the best of railways, and the best of Scotland.”

You can find out more about the franchise and plan your journey on the Caledonian Sleeper website, which includes more destination information.

New train fleet and supporting Scottish businesses

Train fleet

From April 2019 the Caledonian Sleeper fleet is being replaced by 75 hotel-class carriages. The new trains are designed to 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. They were constructed by Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) in Spain.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson welcomed the new fleet, saying: "The Caledonian Sleeper shows the best of railways, and the best of Scotland.”

Supporting businesses

The current franchise has 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 homegrown products. Scottish companies that are already benefitting directly from the Caledonian Sleeper include:

Franchise commitments


From Year 4 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. Performance is closely monitored to ensure passengers benefit from this target being achieved.


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 stations served by the Caledonian Sleeper. 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, Leuchars, Perth, Stirling and Fort William. These include accessible toilets and shower facilities for guests. The facilities at Perth have brought a long-redundant station building back into use, and now also include meeting and training facilities for Caledonian Sleeper staff and other groups. This was supported by the Railway Heritage Trust through 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.