INSOMNIAC passengers on the Caledonian Sleeper are being offered pillow sprays to help them rest.
The relaxant was among improvements introduced last night by new operator Serco as it started a 15-year contract to run the overnight Scotland-London trains.
“You either love it or hate it - this might work for some”Robert Samson, Passenger Focus
The service has been split from ScotRail and will feature brand new carriages from 2018 that will include Europe’s first lie-flat train seats, as well as en suite toilets and showers in first class cabins for the first time.
Serco said it had developed the pillow spray following advice from the British Sleep Society, the professional body for doctors and scientists dealing with sleeping disorders.
Caledonian Sleeper managing director Peter Strachan said: “The society has given us guidance to help understand how people can get a better night’s sleep.
“From day one, the ‘sleep kit’ we provide has some interesting things in it as well as the things you would expect, like ear plugs and eye masks, to make people a bit more comfortable.
“We are also producing a pillow spray that has been developed by Arran Aromatics. We have researched that with the society and we think if people spray their pillow, the ambience that it gives them will give them a better night’s sleep.
“It is not heavily scented – the idea is it just calms.”
Mr Strachan said new bed linen and duvets would also give a “crisper and more pleasant feel” to the bedding.
He said staff were wearing monitors to track their sleep patterns, which could lead to further innovations.
Mr Strachan added that the new trains – being built in Spain by Edinburgh tram builder Caf – would include larger beds to take account of average body sizes increasing since the current coaches were built more than 30 years ago.
Watchdog Passenger Focus said the pillow spray was worth a try.
Passenger Focus passenger manager Robert Samson said: “Improvements to any aspect of the sleeper journey is to be welcomed, and I look forward to seeing how well it works.
“The sleeper is a bit like Marmite – you either love it or hate it, and this might work for some people.”
Other changes have included more Scottish produce on the menu, including lamb from near Inverness, haggis and potatoes from Dingwall, and smoked meats from Kinloch Rannoch.
Serco won the franchise from previous operator FirstGroup, as Scotland on Sunday revealed last year. The Scottish Government will require it to significantly improve the sleeper to make it “Scotland on wheels”.
Mr Strachan said the new trains would “completely transform” the service, which runs between Edinburgh, Glasgow, Fort William, Aberdeen and Inverness six nights a week.
However, he indicated that passengers might have to pay higher fares for berths with showers and toilets.
He said: “At the luxury end, we want to make sure we will be competitive.
“What people have to bear in mind is that it’s a combination of the hotel and the journey we are offering.
“We will see levels of service and experience we have not seen before on the sleeper.”
Transport minister Derek Mackay said: “The new Caledonian Sleeper service promises to be so much more than a commuter rail trip.
“The exciting plans will see the journey become a tourism draw in itself, and to realise the Scottish Government’s ambition for the service to be emblematic of the best of Scotland.
“Passengers can immediately start to enjoy the new catering offering and hospitality-style service, and this kicks off the countdown to the £150 million fleet of new sleeper trains due to arrive in 2018.”
Serco runs Great Southern Rail in Australia, which operates four coast-to-coast routes such as the Ghan between Adelaide and Darwin, and the Indian Pacific from Perth to Sydney.
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