New Caledonian Sleeper berths to feature double beds

Romance is returning to the railways with Caledonian Sleeper announcing today it will provide the first double beds in a British train.

Catherine Boyle, a hostess on the Sleeper, tries out the new design. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor
Catherine Boyle, a hostess on the Sleeper, tries out the new design. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor

Passengers struggling to sleep in the current 40-year-old carriages are due to see the experience transformed from spring 2018.

The £150 million new fleet will also offer an ensuite shower and toilet in some berths, revamped lounge car and improved catering.

Intercoms will enable travellers to order food and drink like room service in a hotel, with wi-fi and power sockets throughout the trains.

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf with Caledonian Sleeper managing director Peter Strachan in a model of the new berths. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor

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Caledonian Sleeper unveiled a full-size mock-up of the new look yesterday, in a warehouse near Edinburgh, which is due to go on show later in the year.

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The double bed innovation came in response to calls from passenger groups. However, a planned bunk above it has been scrapped.

Couples may now be able to sleep together, but the days of sharing a berth with a stranger are to end.

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Design for Caledonian Sleeper double bed berth

Sleeper officials said it had become a “disincentive to travel” for lone passengers, who will be given berths on their own.

However, it remains to be seen how much travellers will have to pay for the improvements. Caledonian Sleeper said it was “still looking at the fare structure, but we want to remain competitive”.

The shower/toilet “wet room” will enable passengers to shower standing up or seated, with enough water for a 20- minute drenching each.

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In a subtle response to ministers’ aspiration that the Sleeper be “emblematic of Scotland”, carpets and headrests are based on Harris tweed.

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf with Caledonian Sleeper managing director Peter Strachan in a model of the new berths. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor

The operator also plans to reflect the best of Scottish cuisine with further enhancements to the catering menu, which will be possible thanks to the trains’ far larger galleys.

Breakfast will be the “signature dish”, with eggs and toast among items possible. Currently, everything has to be heated by microwave.

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Transport minister Humza Yousaf, who visited the mock-up carriages today, said: “I’m blown away. This takes overnight rail travel to a different stage - it will be the most comfortable ever.”

The minister last travelled on the Sleeper several years ago.

Design for Caledonian Sleeper double bed berth

He said: “I was so tired I slept the whole journey but it was not nearly as comfortable as this looks.”

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The lounge, or club, car will have new banquettes to increase seating, with power sockets embedded in tables.

In seated coaches, overhead lockable storage areas will enable passengers to keep valuables safe while they sleep.

However, the new seats won’t recline any further than the current ones, and plans to enable them to convert into airline-style lie-flat beds have been abandoned because of problems meeting safety regulations.

There will also be space for 12 bikes on the trains, which run between Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness, Fort William and London.

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The carriages will be constructed by Edinburgh tram builder CAF in Spain.

Watchdog Transport Focus was impressed with the new design. Passenger manager Robert Samson said:

“Passengers will welcome the improved comfort and modern facilities the new trains will bring.

“When we saw the mock-up, the overall improvement in quality will be a step change for passengers, bringing, among many others, plug sockets and en-suite facilities.

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“It is now time to fulfil that order and make this glimpse a reality for all Caledonian Sleeper passengers.”