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New destinations for Scottish sleeper trains?

67012 hauls a London Euston-Inverness sleeper through Dalwhinnie on April 30. PHIL METCALFE.

Oban and Scotland’s Far North could be served by Caledonian Sleeper trains, but funding from authorities would be needed to support the services.

CS Managing Director Peter Strachan, speaking exclusively to RAIL on May 6, confirmed that discussions had taken place with user groups regarding running trains north of Inverness, and with business groups for Oban.

If the latter happens, he has not ruled out the possibility that extra Mk 5 coaches may have to be ordered from Construcciones Y Auxiliar De Ferrocarriles (CAF). The Spanish company is already building 75 vehicles for CS that will enter traffic in 2018.

Strachan said of the Far North: “It is a journey of six or seven hours to the Central Belt. If Hitrans wants to invest in a feasibility study, I have said we will help and support that with analysis. It is a long way to committing, but we are prepared to look at it.”

He added, however: “I have said I do not see this as a standalone business case. I think it will need subsidy from local authority or Transport Scotland.”

Regarding operations, Strachan said that the level of detail had not been looked at, but that he didn’t want to “tie up locomotives and stock that would otherwise be undergoing maintenance”.

  • For more of Peter Strachan's interview, read RAIL 801, published on May 25.

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  • Niall Laybourne - 23/05/2016 20:41

    It is a journey of approx. 8hrs 15mins from Wick to Glasgow/Edinburgh, not 6-7hrs. I would prefer money spent on shortening this journey, including full double-tracking of the Highland Mainline as well as a Dornoch rail link on the Far North Line (and also linespeed improvements and signalling modernisation) than having money spent on a subsidised Sleeper service which (in my opinion) isn't viable....much as I'd love to see top 'n tail '73s up here ;) Of course, infrastructure costs a lot more than a Sleeper service! But is there really a market for this? Oban I can see....it can link to Fort William...but the Far North?! Let's subsidise freight-specific improvements. Let's help freight get off the roads. Let's improve our passenger services and reliability. And let's not be blind to the interminably long Far North Line journey by hoping people will prefer to sleep through it! ;)

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  • FrankH - 23/05/2016 22:24

    They can't put any more coaches on the Fort William train out of Euston. It's got 16 on now so it's full platform length. Any more and it would block access to other platforms.

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    • Niall Laybourne - 24/05/2016 17:04

      FrankH, could it split off Glasgow service? Is London - Oban direct only option? Or perhaps Fort William/Oban combined service and separate Inverness/Aberdeen service, along with later Glasgow/Edinburgh service?

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      • FrankH - 24/05/2016 23:29

        The 2116 ex Euston splits at Edinburgh for Inverness/Aberdeen and Fort William (arr 09.55) via Glasgow Queen Street High Level. It is possible to go from Glasgow Central via Exhibition Center/Dalmarnock and onto the Oban/Fort William line. Run both portions together to Crianlarich and split there. Big problem being you'd need an extra pair of 73's if they persist on top and tail .

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  • Alistair Kewish - 24/05/2016 18:25

    This is really good news except for one vital item apparently being overlooked. How many of our readers recall the Night Star rolling stock actually built for overnight services from Edinburgh to Paris? I wondered if good and prudent housekeeping could prevail and get these coaches demothballed if ever such a word exists and brought back from storage? The one thing that sticks in my fading memory was the gross weight of each coach. Deemed at a crucial moment to be too heavy? Another lost opportunity?

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    • Niall Laybourne - 25/05/2016 08:13

      Certainly a lost opportunity but I don't believe these coaches are mothballed; they are running happily (modified for northern winters) for VIA Rail Canada. And '73s certainly couldn't cope with the weight of these coaches...would Oban, Ft. William or Far North even cope with the weight? New Sleeper stock is being built by CAF just now, leagues ahead of the Mk3s, and a lot lighter than the Nightstars.

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