Caledonian Sleeper

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Caledonian Sleeper
92038 Wembley Depot to Euston 5S95 (32259639106).jpg
92038 at Euston in April 2015 in Serco midnight teal livery
Franchise(s)Part of ScotRail (National Express) 31 March 1997 - 16 October 2004
Part of First ScotRail 17 October 2004 - 30 March 2015
Standalone franchise operated by Serco (31 March 2015 – 31 March 2030)
Main region(s)West Coast Main Line
Edinburgh to Aberdeen Line
Highland Main Line
West Highland Line
Fleet size75 Mark 5 carriages
Stations called at46
Parent companySerco

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.

The Caledonian Sleeper's London terminus is London Euston.

Since April 2015, the Caledonian Sleeper has been a standalone franchise operated by Serco. Prior to this it was part of the ScotRail franchise. In 2017 Serco revealed details of a £150m revamp of the Caledonian Sleeper, with en-suite cabins and double beds, with new Mark 5 carriages introduced in April 2019.


Caledonian Sleeper route, shown in pink (interactive map)

In February 1873 the North British railway displayed the first sleeping car to run in Britain. It had been built by the Ashbury Carriage Company, and was displayed at Glasgow, Edinburgh and London King’s Cross.[1] It formed the first sleeping carriage used on British railways when it made its first revenue earning trip on 24 February 1873 when it was attached to a train at Glasgow for King’s Cross.[2]

On 1 October 1873 the Caledonian Railway introduced a sleeping carriage, built by the London and North Western Railway, on limited mail trains three days per week between Glasgow Buchanan Street and London Euston.[3] The service ran from Glasgow on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and from London on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. An extra charge of ten shillings was made for a sleeping berth.[4]

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.[5] 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.[6][7] After 12 months the Stagecoach carriages were withdrawn.[8]

On 5 March 1995, responsibility for operation of the Anglo-Scottish services passed within British Rail from InterCity West Coast to ScotRail.[9] 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.[10][11][12] Eventually British Rail agreed to retain the Fort William portion, but it was reduced from four sleeping carriages to one.[13] The motorail service was withdrawn in 1995.[14]

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.[15][16] On 31 March 1997, as part of the ScotRail franchise it was taken over by National Express.[17] 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.[18][19]

In January 2000, sitting carriages were introduced with 11 ex Virgin Trains Mark 2 carriages refurbished at Wolverton Works with first class recliners.[20][21][22] At the same time the Mark 3 sleeping carriages were refurbished with a purple and blue livery applied.[23][24]

From June 2001, Class 67s began to replace Class 47s on the Aberdeen and Inverness portions.[25] 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.[26] The rolling stock remained unchanged. The carriages were painted in FirstGroup's corporate blue, pink and white livery as were three Class 90s.[27][28][29][30]


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.[31][32] In June 2013, Transport Scotland announced Arriva, FirstGroup and Serco had been shortlisted to bid for the new franchise.[33] In May 2014, the franchise was awarded to Serco with a commitment to replace the Mark 2 and Mark 3 coaching stock by 2018.[34] On 31 March 2015, Serco Caledonian Sleepers Limited took over the operation of the Caledonian Sleeper.[35]

The Caledonian Sleepers headquarters and customer call centre are located opposite Inverness station at 1 Union Street. Some terminus stations have lounges and ticketing/customer service desks.

The following stations have Caledonian Sleeper operated lounges available to all Caledonian Sleeper services: Dundee, Fort William, Inverness, Leuchars, Perth, and Stirling.[36]


Caledonian Sleeper destinations
(northbound only)
Blair Atholl
Dunkeld & Birnam
Falkirk Grahamston
(southbound only)
Fort William
Spean Bridge
Roy Bridge
(request stop)
Bridge of Orchy
Upper Tyndrum
(request stop)
Arrochar & Tarbet
Helensburgh Upper
Dumbarton Central
Glasgow Queen Street
Edinburgh Waverley
Watford Junction London Overground
(northbound only)
London Euston London Underground London Overground

Glasgow Central
Edinburgh Waverley
Watford Junction London Overground
London Euston London Underground London Overground

Two trains depart London Euston on six nights per week, Sunday to Friday, heading north on the West Coast Main Line. Two trains arrive at London Euston on six mornings a week, Monday to Saturday, having headed south 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.

Caledonian Sleeper
Route Service Calling at
London Euston to Aberdeen Highland Sleeper Watford Junction[a], Crewe[b] Preston[b], Inverkeithing, Kirkcaldy, Leuchars, Dundee, Carnoustie, Arbroath, Montrose, Stonehaven
runs joined to Inverness and Fort William portions south of Edinburgh Waverley, which this portion does not call at.
London Euston to Inverness Watford Junction[a], Crewe[b], Preston[b], Falkirk Grahamston[c], Stirling, Dunblane, Gleneagles, Perth, Dunkeld & Birnam, Pitlochry, Blair Atholl, Dalwhinnie, Newtonmore, Kingussie, Aviemore, Carrbridge[d]
runs joined to Aberdeen and Fort William portions south of Edinburgh Waverley, which this portion does not call at.
London Euston to Fort William Watford Junction[a], Crewe[b], Preston[b], Edinburgh Waverley[b], Glasgow Queen Street[b], Dalmuir, Dumbarton Central, Helensburgh Upper, Garelochhead, Arrochar & Tarbet, Ardlui, Crianlarich, Upper Tyndrum, Bridge of Orchy, Rannoch, Corrour, Tulloch, Roy Bridge, Spean Bridge
runs joined to Aberdeen and Inverness portions south of Edinburgh Waverley
London Euston to Edinburgh Waverley Lowland Sleeper Watford Junction[b], Carlisle, Carstairs
runs joined to Glasgow portion south of Carstairs
London Euston to Glasgow Central Watford Junction[b], Carlisle, Carstairs, Motherwell
runs joined to Edinburgh portion south of Carstairs


  1. ^ a b c Pick up only in northbound direction, no southbound service
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Pick up only in northbound direction, set-down only in southbound direction
  3. ^ southbound only
  4. ^ northbound only

Highland Sleeper[edit]

The portion for Fort William at Corrour behind a Class 67 in 2015

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 arriving at Edinburgh are for Fort William, being combined at Edinburgh with a further two sitting carriages to make a four-vehicle formation. The middle portion of 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.[37]

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. When London Euston station itself is closed, or there is no possible routing into the station during engineering works, trains divert to London King's Cross.

The inaugural service with new CAF Mark 5 rolling stock ran southbound on the night of Sunday 28 April 2019 as 1S26 at 2134 from Glasgow Central to London Euston. The northbound service was 1M11 from Euston to Glasgow Central. Both used the ECML, reversing at Wembley to allow access to and from Euston due to engineering work on the WCML. Services were heavily delayed due to signalling issues between Carstairs and Midcalder Junction, resulting in some bad publicity.[citation needed]

Potential future services[edit]

In 2017, the Highlands and Islands Strategic Transport Partnership (HITRANS) began discussions with Caledonian Sleeper about the idea of additional services beyond the current Highland and Lowland Sleepers from London, with the primary suggestion being a service connecting Glasgow and Edinburgh with Inverness, and then on to Wick and Thurso. The displacement of the existing Mark 2 and Mark 3 vehicles by the new Mark 5 rolling stock would provide sufficient coaches of reasonable quality to allow such a service to run.[38][39] In 2018, this proposal was elaborated on with the publication of an outline timetable that would see a nightly service from Glasgow calling at Edinburgh and then along the Highland Main Line to Inverness, where a portion would be detached to go north, terminating at Thurso to connect with the ferry to Orkney, with a southbound service undertaking the journey in reverse. This plan would see trains using a mix of Mark 3 sleeper coaches, Mark 2 day coaches and a DVT, which could be used for low volume parcels traffic.[40]

Rolling stock[edit]

Sleeping cabin on the Caledonian Sleeper.
Seated carriage on the Caledonian Sleeper.
Suite on the new Caledonian Sleeper Mk5s.

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.[18][19]

From June 2001, Class 67s began to replace Class 47s on the Aberdeen and Inverness portions.[25] In June 2006, they replaced Class 37s on the Fort William portion. To operate the latter, four 67s (004/007/009/011) were fitted with cast iron brakes and restricted to 80 mph.

When Serco was awarded the franchise, it contracted GB Railfreight to provide drivers and traction for the services.[41][42] It was planned that the electric services be operated by Class 92s and the diesel services by rebuilt Class 73/9s.[43] 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.[44][45][46] DB Cargo UK Class 67s ceased being regularly used in June 2016[47], although they can still be seen on Inverness services as of 2018.[48]

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.[49] A midnight teal livery was adopted.[50][51]

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.[52] From 30 June 2016, the newly rebuilt Class 73s replaced the Class 67s on most routes.

From its 1996 inception until 2019, the service was operated by Mark 2 and Mark 3 carriages. In April 2019 these were replaced on the Lowland services by Mark 5 carriages, with the Highland services to be converted in May 2019.[53][54][55]

Current fleet[edit]

Class Image Type Top speed Fleet size Numbers Usage Built Hired From
mph km/h
Class 08 Shunting at Inverness - - 639908.jpg Diesel-electric locomotive 15 25 2 08308, 08523 Shunting at Inverness 1957 RMS Locotec
Class 67 The Highlander at Spean Bridge - February 2016 (1) (geograph 4836901).jpg 125 200 Varying locos from owner pool. Edinburgh - Inverness 1999-2000 English, Welsh & Scottish Railway
Class 73/9 73966, Class 73 Electro-diesel in Caledonian Sleeper livery at Fort William Station.JPG Electro-diesel locomotive 90 145 6 73966–71 Edinburgh - Aberdeen/Fort William 1962, 1965-7
(Rebuilt 2014-6)
GB Railfreight
Class 86 86101 'Sir William A Stanier FRS' at Crewe - 2nd April 2016.jpg Electric Locomotive 110 177 1 86101 Empty Coaching Stock (London - Wembley) 1965-6 AC Locomotive Group
Glasgow Central - AC 86401 ecs off the Caledonian Sleeper.JPG 100 161 86401
Class 87 87002Waverley.jpg 110 177 87002 London - Edinburgh / Glasgow Sleeper Portions. Empty Coaching Stock (London - Wembley)
Rescue Locomotive
1973-5 AC Locomotive Group
Class 90 90045 Euston to (28760151772).jpg - Varying Locos from both Freightliner Fleets. London - Glasgow/Edinburgh 1987–90 Freightliner
Class 92 92038 stabled in centre-roads Euston.jpg 87 140 6 92010, 92014, 92018, 92023, 92033, 92038 1993-6 GB Railfreight
Mark 2 carriage Caledonian Sleeper bar car 6706 at Euston Station.jpg Lounge car
Seated Sleeper
100 160 22 Full Network 1969-74 N/A
Mark 3 carriage Caledonian Sleeper Mk3 SLE 10693 at Glasgow Central.JPG Sleeping car 125 200 53 1975-88 Porterbrook
Mark 5 carriage CAF mk5 sleeper coach.jpg Carriage 100 161 75 2016-2018 Lombard North Central

Past fleet[edit]

Class Image Type Top speed Fleet size Numbers Usage Built Hired From
mph km/h
Class 37/4 37406 at Arrocher and Tarbet on the Caledonian Sleeper to Fort William.JPG Diesel-electric locomotive 80 130 Varying locos from owner pool. Edinburgh - Fort William 1960-1965 English, Welsh & Scottish Railway


  1. ^ "Sleeping Cars on Railways". Huddersfield Chronicle. England. 15 February 1873. Retrieved 31 August 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  2. ^ "Sleeping Carriage". Derbyshire Courier. England. 1 March 1873. Retrieved 31 August 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  3. ^ "Caledonian Railway. Sleeping Carriage to London". Glasgow Herald. England. 15 October 1873. Retrieved 31 August 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  4. ^ "The Glasgow Herald - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  5. ^ "No sleepers on ECML". The Railway Magazine (1049): 690. 1 November 1987.
  6. ^ "Stagecoach, InterCity Launch Trend-setting Marketing Deal" The Railway Magazine issue 1093 May 1992 page 6
  7. ^ "Stagecoach Rail Livery Unveiled" The Railway Magazine issue 1094 June 1992 page 10
  8. ^ "The Stagecoach Story" Rail issue 286 28 August 1996 pages 34-37
  9. ^ "Inverness depot to remain open" The Railway Magazine issue 1128 April 1995 page 31
  10. ^ "Sleeper cuts to go ahead" Rail Privatisation News issue 23 March 1995 page 4
  11. ^ "Court rules on Fort William Sleeper" Rail issue 253 24 May 1995 page 6
  12. ^ "BR loses appeal over W Highlands sleeper" Rail issue 255 21 June 1995 page 8
  13. ^ "Fort William sleeper reprieved" Rail issue 262 27 September 1995 page 6
  14. ^ "Thirty years of the Mk 3 sleepers" Rail Express issue 190 March 2012 pages 14-21
  15. ^ "Caledonian Sleepers relaunched" Rail Privatisation News issue 33 27 June 1996 page 4
  16. ^ "Sleeper service relaunch" Rail issue 283 17 July 1996 page 11
  17. ^ "ScotRail prize goes to National Express" The Railway Magazine issue 1152 April 1997 page 9
  18. ^ a b "EWS to power ScotRail sleepers" The Railway Magazine issue 1164 April 1998 page 60
  19. ^ a b "EWS starts electric Sleeper operations" Rail issue 328 8 April 1998 page 59
  20. ^ "ScotRail sleepers - seats for all at £7m" Rail issue 356 5 May 1999 page 8
  21. ^ "Scotrail refurbishes day coaches for sleepers" Rail issue 371 1 December 1999 page 11
  22. ^ "Seat back on sleeper trains for ScotRail" Rail issue 377 23 February 2000 page 11
  23. ^ "ScotRail's Caledonian Sleepers go purple" Rail Express issue 41 October 1999 page 54
  24. ^ "ScotRail sleeper upgrade" The Railway Magazine issue 1182 October 1999 page 63
  25. ^ a b "EWS and ScotRail agree Class 67s for sleepers" The Railway Magazine issue 1219 November 2002 page 71
  26. ^ FirstGroup clinches Scottish rail franchise The Daily Telegraph 12 June 2004
  27. ^ Operating enhancements for First Scotrail sleeper to be delivered by EWS and Axiom Rail English Welsh & Scottish 26 May 2006
  28. ^ "Hybrid identity for Scottish Class 90s" Rail issue 541 7 June 2006 page 7
  29. ^ "EWS paints first Class 90 for ScotRail" Today's Railways issue 55 July 2006 page 51
  30. ^ "Class 90 gets First Group livery" The Railway Magazine issue 1266 October 2006 page 7
  31. ^ Scottish rail services plan outlined by government BBC News 21 June 2012
  32. ^ "Scotland to split Sleepers from next ScotRail franchise" Rail issue 700 11 July 2012 page 8
  33. ^ Caledonian sleeper train service bidders named BBC News 28 June 2013
  34. ^ Serco wins franchise for Caledonian sleeper train service BBC News 28 May 2014
  35. ^ "Companies House extract company no SC477821 Serco Caledonian Sleepers Limited".
  36. ^
  37. ^ GB NRT December 2015-May 2016, Tables 227 (Network Rail)
  38. ^ "Rail sleeper plan between Caithness and Edinburgh". Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  39. ^ "THURSO - GLASGOW SLEEPER PLAN" Modern Railways Volume 74 Number 822 March 2017 page 16
  40. ^ Haigh, Philip (14 February 2018). "Outline timetable unveiled for Thurso Sleeper services plan". Rail (846): 16–17.
  41. ^ GB Railfreight boosts rail services business with Serco Caledonian Sleeper contract Europorte 17 February 2015
  42. ^ Serco signs GB Railfreight to run Scots sleeper services BBC News 17 February 2015
  43. ^ "Final GBRf rebuilt Class 92 delivered for Sleeper service" Rail issue 774 13 May 2015 page 28
  44. ^ "The Sleepers are stirring" Rail issue 756 3 September 2014 page 70
  45. ^ "Class 90s for Sleepers until 92s prove their reliability Rail issue 783 16 September 2015 page 10
  46. ^ "Caledonian Sleeper uses Class 86s" Railway Magazine issue 797 30 March 2016 page 28
  47. ^ "Rebuilt 73/9s take over all Caledonian Sleeper work" Rail issue 805 20 July 2016 page 32
  48. ^ "HML morning sleeper" [1] Steven Crozier, Flikr 30 June 2018
  49. ^ Preservation 2015 AC Locomotive Group
  50. ^ "Repaint into Midnight Teal livery" Rail issue 771 1 April 2015 page 29
  51. ^ "86/4 to receive Sleeper livery" Rail issue 776 10 June 2015 page 27
  52. ^ Alstom to maintain sleeper trains in the UK Alstom 12 February 2015
  53. ^ Brand new Caledonian Sleeper trains from 2018 Archived 4 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine Serco 17 February 2015
  54. ^ New £150m Caledonian Sleeper train arrives three hours late BBC News 29 April 2019
  55. ^ Caledonian Sleeper launches new CAF coaches Railway Gazette International 29 April 2019

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