Caledonian Sleeper

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Caledonian Sleeper
92038 stabled in centre-roads Euston.jpg
92038 at Euston in April 2015 in Serco midnight teal livery
Franchise(s): Part of ScotRail (National Express) 31 Mar 1997-16 Oct 2004
Part of First ScotRail 17 Oct 2004-30 Mar 2015
Standalone franchise operated by Serco (31 Mar 2015-present)
Main (s): West Coast Main Line
Edinburgh to Aberdeen Line
Highland Main Line
West Highland Line
Fleet size: 22 × Mark 2, 53 × Mark 3
Stations called at: 46
Parent company: Serco

Caledonian Sleeper is the collective name for overnight sleeper train services between London and Scotland, in the United Kingdom.

It is one of only two sleeper services on the railway in the United Kingdom (the other being the Night Riviera between London and Penzance). Two services depart London each night from Sunday to Friday and travel via the West Coast Main Line to Scotland. The earlier departure divides at Edinburgh into portions for Aberdeen, Fort William and Inverness. The later departure serves Edinburgh and Glasgow splitting at Carstairs. Five London bound portions depart from these destinations each night, combining into two trains at Edinburgh and Carstairs.

Since April 2015, the Caledonian Sleeper has been a standalone franchise operated by Serco. Prior to this it was part of the ScotRail franchise.


Caledonian Sleeper route, shown in pink (interactive map)

Sleeper trains had operated between London and Scotland since the completion of the line in the 1850s. Services operated from both London Euston via the West Coast Main Line including the Royal Highlander and London King's Cross via the East Coast Main Line until the latter were withdrawn in May 1988.[1] InterCity planned to remove all seating accommodation on the remaining services from May 1992, however it instead concluded a deal with Stagecoach to retain the Mark 2 sitting carriages.[2][3] After 12 months the Stagecoach carriages were withdrawn.[4]

On 5 March 1995, responsibility for operation of the Anglo-Scottish services passed within British Rail from InterCity West Coast to ScotRail.[5] British Rail had proposed to cease operating the Fort William portion, however the Highland Regional Council successfully sought a stay pending a formal consultation, after the Scottish Court of Session ruled that the correct service closure process had not been followed.[6][7][8] Eventually British Rail agreed to retain the Fort William portion, but it was reduced from four sleeping carriages to one.[9] The motorail service was withdrawn in 1995.[10]

Caledonian Sleeper[edit]

On 4 June 1996, the service was relaunched as the Caledonian Sleeper with the Night Caledonian (to Glasgow), Night Scotsman (to Edinburgh), Night Aberdonian (to Aberdeen), Royal Highlander (to Inverness) and West Highlander (to Fort William) sub-brands.[11][12] On 31 March 1997, as part of the ScotRail franchise it was taken over by National Express.[13] In March 1998, the West Coast Main Line portions which had been hauled by Virgin Trains Class 87s, were taken over by English Welsh & Scottish Class 90s.[14][15]

In January 2000, sitting carriages were introduced with 11 ex Virgin Trains Mark 2 carriages refurbished at Wolverton railway works with first class recliners.[16][17][18] At the same time the Mark 3 sleeping carriages were refurbished with a purple and blue livery applied.[19][20]

From June 2001, Class 67s began to replace Class 47s on the Aberdeen and Inverness portions.[21] In June 2006, they replaced Class 37s on the Fort William portion.

On 17 October 2004, the Caledonian Sleeper along with the rest of the ScotRail franchise was taken over by First ScotRail.[22] The rolling stock remained unchanged. The carriages were painted in FirstGroup's corporate blue, pink and white livery as were three Class 90s.[23][24][25][26]


In 2012 the Scottish Government announced that as part of the reletting of the ScotRail franchise from April 2015, the Caledonian Sleeper would be operated by a separate franchise. It was stated that a total of £100 million would be invested in new and additional rolling stock.[27][28] In June 2013, Transport Scotland announced Arriva, FirstGroup and Serco had been shortlisted to bid for the new franchise.[29] In May 2014, the franchise was awarded to Serco with a commitment to replace the Mark 2 and Mark 3 coaching stock by 2018.[30] On 31 March 2015, Serco Caledonian Sleepers Limited,[31] took over the operation of the Caledonian Sleeper

The Caledonian Sleepers headquarters and customer call centre are located within Inverness station. Some terminus station have lounges and ticketing/customer service desks.


Caledonian Sleeper destinations
Carrbridge (northbound only)
Blair Atholl
Dunkeld & Birnam
718 Stirling
684 Falkirk Grahamston (southbound only)
827 Stonehaven
788 Montrose
766 Arbroath
738 Dundee
725 Leuchars
685 Kirkcaldy
Forth Bridge
Fort William
Spean Bridge
Roy Bridge
Bridge of Orchy
Upper Tyndrum
Arrochar & Tarbet
Helensburgh Upper
Dumbarton Central
Glasgow Queen Street
643 Edinburgh Waverley (split/join)
Anglo-Scottish border
336 Preston
254 Crewe
28 Watford Junction London Overground (northbound only)
000 London Euston London Underground London Overground

Glasgow Central
625 Motherwell
646 Edinburgh Waverley
600 Carstairs (split/join)
Anglo-Scottish border
481 Carlisle
28 Watford Junction London Overground
000 London Euston London Underground London Overground
First ScotRail liveried Mark 3 at Edinburgh Waverley in February 2009

Two trains depart London Euston on six nights per week, Sunday to Friday, heading north on the West Coast Main Line. The trains normally operate at a maximum speed of 80 miles per hour (130 km/h), but are authorised to travel at 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) where line speeds permit if the train has been delayed by more than 20 minutes.

Highland Sleeper[edit]

Departs London Euston at 21:15 (20:57 Sunday), calling at Watford Junction, Crewe and Preston to pick up passengers only, and arrives at Edinburgh Waverley approximately six-and-a-half hours after leaving London. The electric Class 92 (sometimes Class 90) locomotive is uncoupled and replaced by a Class 73/9 (formerly a Class 67) diesel locomotive for each of the three portions, to Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William.

The front two sleeping carriages are for Fort William, being combined at Edinburgh with a further two sitting carriages to make a four-vehicle formation. The middle portion of either six carriages is for Aberdeen, and the rear portion of eight carriages is for Inverness. Both the Aberdeen and Inverness portions usually convey one sitting and one lounge carriage each, with the rest being sleeping cars, all working through to/from London.

Heading south, the Aberdeen, Fort William and Inverness portions join at Edinburgh to form one train calling at Preston, Crewe and London Euston (alighting only).

As of September 2014, the Fort William Sleeper no longer serves Westerton, instead serving Glasgow Queen Street Low Level, alighting only southbound/boarding only northbound.[32]

Lowland Sleeper[edit]

Departs London Euston at 23:50 (23:27 Sunday), calling at Watford Junction to pick up only. Passengers can alight at Carlisle and at Carstairs (on the Glasgow section only), where the train divides, the rear portion continuing to Edinburgh, the front portion to Glasgow Central additionally calling at Motherwell.

Southbound the portions from Glasgow (calling at Motherwell) and Edinburgh join at Carstairs (where passengers can board the Glasgow section), then call at Carlisle to pick up only, setting down at Watford Junction and London Euston the following morning.

Sunday services are sometimes diverted via the East Coast Main Line when the West Coast Main Line is closed for engineering work. Services diverted via the East Coast Main Line still depart from London Euston.

Rolling Stock[edit]

First ScotRail liveried 90021 at Edinburgh Waverley in June 2009

Since its 1996 inception, the service has been operated by Mark 2 and Mark 3 carriages. These are scheduled to be replaced by Mark 5 carriages in 2018.[33][34]

Motive power was initially provided by InterCity West Coast Class 87s on the electrified West Coast Main Line and Class 37s and Class 47s north of Edinburgh. In March 1998, the Class 87s were replaced by English Welsh & Scottish Class 90s.[14][15]

From June 2001, Class 67s began to replace Class 47s on the Aberdeen and Inverness portions.[21] In June 2006, they replaced Class 37s on the Fort William portion. To operate the latter, the 67s were fitted with cast iron brakes and restricted to 80 mph.

When Serco were awarded the franchise, it contracted GB Railfreight to provide drivers and traction for the services.[35][36] It was planned that the electric services be operated by Class 92s and the diesel services by rebuilt Class 73/9s.[37] However mechanical problems with the former and the first of the latter not debuting until February 2016, have seen locomotives hired in from a number of sources including AC Locomotive Group, DB Cargo UK, Freightliner and Harry Needle Railroad Company.[38][39][40] DB Cargo UK Class 67s ceased being used in June 2016.[41]

AC Locomotive Group heritage Class 86 and Class 87s haul the empty carriage movements between Euston and Wembley depot and have on occasions operated services to Scotland.[42] A midnight teal livery was adopted.[43][44]

Heavy maintenance on the carriage stock was performed at Inverness until April 2015, when the work was contracted out to Alstom and transferred to Polmadie.[45]

As of January 2017, Class 67s have since been hired in to operate the Inverness portion North of Edinburgh, due to continuous problems with Class 66 and Class 73 dual operation on the line.


Class Image Type Top speed Numbers Nos. Usage Built Hired From
mph km/h
73/9 73966, Class 73 Electro-diesel in Caledonian Sleeper livery at Fort William Station.JPG Electro-diesel locomotive 90 145 6 73966–73971 Edinburgh - Inverness/Aberdeen/Fort William 1962, 1965-1967
(Rebuilt 2014-2016)
GB Railfreight
86 Electric Locomotive 110 177 1 86101 Empty Coaching Stock (London - Wembley) 1965-1966 AC Locomotive Group
100 161 1 86401
87 87002Waverley.jpg 110 177 1 87002 London - Edinburgh / Glasgow Sleeper Portions. Empty Coaching Stock (London - Wembley)
Rescue Locomotive
1973-1975 AC Locomotive Group
90 90021 First ScotRail.JPG 110 177 - Varying Locos from both Freightliner and DBS Fleets. London - Glasgow/Edinburgh 1987–1990 Freightliner & DB Cargo UK
92 92038 stabled in centre-roads Euston.jpg 87 140 6 92010, 92014, 92018, 92023, 92033, 92038 London - Glasgow/Edinburgh 1993-1996 GB Railfreight
Mark 2 Caledonian Sleeper bar car 6706 at Euston Station.jpg Lounge car
Seated Sleeper
100 160 22 Full Network 1969-1974 N/A
Mark 3 Caledonian Sleeper at Euston.jpg Sleeping car 125 200 53 Full Network 1975-1988 Porterbrook


Class Image Type Top speed Number Nos. Usage Built Hired From Operated From
mph km/h
Mark 5 Carriage 75 Full Network 2016-2018 N/A 2018


  1. ^ "No sleepers on ECML" The Railway Magazine issue 1039 November 1987 page 690
  2. ^ "Stagecoach, InterCity Launch Trend-setting Marketing Deal" The Railway Magazine issue 1093 May 1992 page 6
  3. ^ "Stagecoach Rail Livery Unveiled" The Railway Magazine issue 1094 June 1992 page 10
  4. ^ "The Stagecoach Story" Rail Magazine issue 286 28 August 1996 pages 34-37
  5. ^ "Inverness depot to remain open" The Railway Magazine issue 1128 April 1995 page 31
  6. ^ "Sleeper cuts to go ahead" Rail Privatisation News issue 23 March 1995 page 4
  7. ^ "Court rules on Fort William Sleeper" Rail Magazine issue 253 24 May 1995 page 6
  8. ^ "BR loses appeal over W Highlands sleeper" Rail Magazine issue 255 21 June 1995 page 8
  9. ^ "Fort William sleeper reprieved" Rail Magazine issue 262 27 September 1995 page 6
  10. ^ "Thirty years of the Mk 3 sleepers" Rail Express issue 190 March 2012 pages 14-21
  11. ^ "Caledonian Sleepers relaunched" Rail Privatisation News issue 33 27 June 1996 page 4
  12. ^ "Sleeper service relaunch" Rail Magazine issue 283 17 July 1996 page 11
  13. ^ "ScotRail prize goes to National Express" The Railway Magazine issue 1152 April 1997 page 9
  14. ^ a b "EWS to power ScotRail sleepers" The Railway Magazine issue 1164 April 1998 page 60
  15. ^ a b "EWS starts electric Sleeper operations" Rail Magazine issue 328 8 April 1998 page 59
  16. ^ "ScotRail sleepers - seats for all at £7m" Rail Magazine issue 356 5 May 1999 page 8
  17. ^ "Scotrail refurbishes day coaches for sleepers" Rail Magazine issue 371 1 December 1999 page 11
  18. ^ "Seat back on sleeper trains for ScotRail" Rail Magazine issue 377 23 February 2000 page 11
  19. ^ "ScotRail's Caledonian Sleepers go purple" Rail Express issue 41 October 1999 page 54
  20. ^ "ScotRail sleeper upgrade" The Railway Magazine issue 1182 October 1999 page 63
  21. ^ a b "EWS and ScotRail agree Class 67s for sleepers" The Railway Magazine issue 1219 November 2002 page 71
  22. ^ FirstGroup clinches Scottish rail franchise The Daily Telegraph 12 June 2004
  23. ^ Operating enhancements for First Scotrail sleeper to be delivered by EWS and Axiom Rail English Welsh & Scottish 26 May 2006
  24. ^ "Hybrid identity for Scottish Class 90s" Rail Magazine issue 541 7 June 2006 page 7
  25. ^ "EWS paints first Class 90 for ScotRail" Today's Railways issue 55 July 2006 page 51
  26. ^ "Class 90 gets First Group livery" The Railway Magazine issue 1266 October 2006 page 7
  27. ^ Scottish rail services plan outlined by government BBC News 21 June 2012
  28. ^ "Scotland to split Sleepers from next ScotRail franchise" Rail Magazine issue 700 11 July 2012 page 8
  29. ^ Caledonian sleeper train service bidders named BBC News 28 June 2013
  30. ^ Serco wins franchise for Caledonian sleeper train service BBC News 28 May 2014
  31. ^ Companies House extract company no SC477821 Serco Caledonian Sleepers Limited
  32. ^ GB NRT December 2015-May 2016, Tables 227 (Network Rail)
  33. ^ Brand new Caledonian Sleeper trains from 2018 Serco 17 February 2015
  34. ^ "Autumn target for mock-up of CAF's new Mk 5 carriages" Rail Magazine issue 775 27 May 2015 page 30
  35. ^ GB Railfreight boosts rail services business with Serco Caledonian Sleeper contract Europorte 17 February 2015
  36. ^ Serco signs GB Railfreight to run Scots sleeper services BBC News 17 February 2015
  37. ^ "Final GBRf rebuilt Class 92 delivered for Sleeper service" Rail Magazine issue 774 13 May 2015 page 28
  38. ^ "The Sleepers are stirring" Rail Magazine issue 756 3 September 2014 page 70
  39. ^ "Class 90s for Sleepers until 92s prove their reliability Rail Magazine issue 783 16 September 2015 page 10
  40. ^ "Caledonian Sleeper uses Class 86s" Railway Magazine issue 797 30 March 2016 page 28
  41. ^ "Rebuilt 73/9s take over all Caledonian Sleeper work" Rail Magazine issue 805 20 July 2016 page 32
  42. ^ Preservation 2015 AC Locomotive Group
  43. ^ "Repaint into Midnight Teal livery" Rail Magazine issue 771 1 April 2015 page 29
  44. ^ "86/4 to receive Sleeper livery" Rail Magazine issue 776 10 June 2015 page 27
  45. ^ Alstom to maintain sleeper trains in the UK Alstom 12 February 2015

External links[edit]

Preceded by
As part of British Rail
Sub-brand of ScotRail franchise
1997 - 2004
Succeeded by
First ScotRail
ScotRail franchise
Preceded by
ScotRail (National Express)
ScotRail franchise
Sub-brand of ScotRail franchise
2004 - 2015
Succeeded by
Caledonian Sleeper
Caledonian Sleeper franchise
Preceded by
First ScotRail
ScotRail franchise
Operator of Caledonian Sleeper franchise
2015 - present