Caledonian Sleeper Franchise

Overview

Prior Information Notice – 24 June 2022

Scottish Ministers have published a Prior Information Notice (PIN), on 24 June 2022, in respect of the Caledonian Sleeper Franchise. This PIN has been published due to existing provisions in the Franchise Agreement whereby the franchisee may exercise a rebasing option on or after 1 April 2022 with a number of possible resultant consequences.

The publication of the PIN is to preserve options for Scottish Ministers around possible contractual arrangements to ensure continued provision of rail services.  

Emergency Measures Agreement

In April 2020 the Scottish Government put in place an Emergency Measures Agreement (EMA) which made temporary variations 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. Further EMAs were put in place thereafter and the final EMA expired on 28 February 2022.

Temporary Measures Agreement

Recognising the continued significant ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Sleeper rail passenger services, a further Temporary Measures Agreement (TMA) has been agreed and will be in place until 31 March 2023. This will ensure continuity of Caledonian Sleeper services and job security for staff throughout this period.


Caledonian Sleeper Franchise

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.

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

Commencing from April 2019, the Caledonian Sleeper fleet was 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 berth accommodation. The fully fitted galley allows for a significantly enhanced menu to be served, showcasing the best of Scottish produce. Significantly enhanced catering equipment will enable a much greater selection of food to be served in the club car than at present.

New carriages 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 is committed to spending 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

Performance

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.

Stations

Since the award of the Franchise, Caledonian Sleeper has delivered a range of improvements to stations and their facilities served by its trains.

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, including community groups and industry partners. This was supported by the Railway Heritage Trust through a £200,000 contribution towards the £1.6m construction of the facilities

Digital Information Totems have been installed at stations served by the Caledonian Sleeper. These provide information on train running and onward transport connections, as well as allowing guests to utilise a two-way video link with the Caledonian Sleeper guest service centre in Inverness.

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.