Serco marked the start of the new Caledonian Sleeper franchise on 31 March as the inaugural service departed from Fort William, bound for London Euston.
The Class 67 locomotive and carriages were reliveried into Serco’s new colours for the service, which feature a midnight teal base and a white stag antler motif, to mark the occasion.
The launch follows the splitting of the Sleeper services from the ScotRail franchise, both of which were previously operated by FirstGroup.
Serco promises a ‘world-class rail hospitality experience’ for travellers on the overnight services between London Euston and Scotland. A range of on board improvements will include a new menu in the lounge car and new Arran Aromatics sleep packs to aid relaxation for travellers.
From 2018 the existing sleeper carriages will be replaced by a new £150 million fleet of 75 carriages, to be built by CAF. These will include four different accommodation options for passengers – en-suite berths, standard berths, pod flatbeds and cradle seats. Both the existing and new sleeper carriage fleets will be maintained by Alstom at its Polmadie (Glasgow) and Wembley (London) traincare centres.
Class 67s will now continue to haul sleeper services north of Edinburgh to Aberdeen, Fort William and Inverness. GB Railfreight, which has been awarded the contract to provide traction and drivers for the service by Serco, was initially planning to hire in Class 47 locomotives prior to the completion of rebuilding of six dedicated Class 73/9 locomotives. It has instead agreed to continue using the existing Class 67s, which will be sub-leased from DB Schenker. Services between Glasgow/Edinburgh and London will usually be in the care of four Class 92 locomotives.