End of line for Sleeper trains that go bump in the night

Passengers on the Caledonian Sleeper's brand new trains are promised a 'silky smooth' ride that will consign the service's notorious bumps and jolts to history.

The new lounge car with "saw-tooth" table. Picture: John Devlin
The new lounge car with "saw-tooth" table. Picture: John Devlin

Rail chiefs who showed off the first of the Spanish-built carriages to The Scotsman yesterday said the impact of sections being coupled and decoupled en route would be “almost negligible”.

The trains are being fitted out in Glasgow ahead of the first ones going into service between Edinburgh, Glasgow and London on 28 October.

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Replacing carriages up to nearly 50 years old, they are due to also operate the Sleeper’s London routes to Fort William, Inverness and Aberdeen from the spring.

One of the twin rooms accessible to wheelchair users. Picture: John Devlin

Innovations include double beds, wheelchair-accessible rooms and ensuite wet rooms with showers, to be “tested to in an inch of their life”.

Passengers will access cabins with tap-on smartcards, and can order room-service food via intercom.

Operator Serco said air conditioning, another passenger bugbear of the current service, would also be transformed.

New trains director Marcus Conn said: “It was one of the areas I was really concerned about but I’m confident it will be fantastic.”

Seated passengers will have individual reading lights and overhead lockable storage. Picture: John Devlin

The new lounge car can accommodate 34 people compared to 18 at present, with its new layout including banquette seating, and stools along a “saw tooth”-shaped table for solo travellers

The new galley has a wide range of equipment such as a holding oven which Serco said could keep scrambled egg in a “nice state” for two hours.

Caledonian Sleeper managing director Ryan Flaherty said: “We have won awards with the current two-microwave galley - what we will be able to do with this is very exciting.”

Seated passengers will have individual reading lights, power and USB charging points, and lockable storage for valuables, using an access code they set themselves.

Screens showing journey progress and landmarks will replace announcements. Picture: John Devlin

Airline-style screens showing the progress of the journey and landmarks en route will replace announcements to reduce disturbance.

The tan and teal reclining seats do not tilt towards the person behind but they also don’t go back any further than the current ones.

Original plans for lie-flat “pod” seats were abandoned because of crash safety concerns.

The £150 million fleet will be covered by CCTV for the first time, while the vestibules even have shoe cleaners.

Tweed-covered walls 'make the Sleeper Scottish without being a shortbread tin'. Picture: John Devlin

Features that reflect the Scottish Government’s requirement that the trains are “emblematic of Scotland” include brown Tweed walls.

Mr Flaherty said: “It makes it Scottish without being a shortbread tin.”