The operators of the Caledonian Sleeper have finally completed the roll-out of their £150million fleet of trains for passengers travelling from London to the Highlands – three months later than planned.
The “hotel on wheels”, costing up to £400 a night for a double suite, has been blighted by problems since the vehicles were first rolled out to Edinburgh and Glasgow in April.
These include late arrivals, staff strikes, cancellations and signalling problems, allied to a poor record for punctuality. In June, official figures showed only three in five trains ran from London to Edinburgh on time.
The introduction of the carriages on the Highlander route this week means the new carriages are at last making their debut to Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William.
Since July 7, when the trains were originally scheduled for use, passengers who paid for accommodation on the new trains were offered partial refunds on tickets after discovering they were still travelling on 30-year-old stock rather than new trains.
The fleet, built by Spanish manufacturer CAF, offers accommodation ranging from comfort seats from £45 for the budget traveller to rooms with double beds and en-suites at £400 for two or £335 for solo travellers.
Other features include a hotel-style key card entry system, charging panels and wi-fi throughout the train.
Ryan Flaherty, Serco’s managing director for Caledonian Sleeper, said: “Our new trains have been years in the making and to see them complete their introduction to service is extremely exciting for everyone involved.
“The Highlander route has always been popular – there’s nothing quite like falling asleep just outside of London and awaking at the foot of the mountains in the Scottish Highlands.
“With the new service, we are sure to see familiar faces continue to make the journey between London and Scotland as well as many new guests enjoy a service which is fit for today’s traveller, combining modern facilities expected with that feeling of nostalgia that comes from long-distance railway travel.
“We have worked really hard to learn lessons from introduction of the trains on the lowlander route earlier this year.
“We are now confident that all passengers can rely on the Caledonian Sleeper to provide the journey of a night time.”