Nationalised Sleeper separate from ScotRail

CALEDONIAN Sleeper will remain a separate operation to ScotRail under public ownership plans announced by the Scottish Government, but the two companies will be chaired by the same person. 

On March 2, Scotland’s Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth announced that from June 25, the overnight service will be delivered “within the public sector by an arm’s-length company owned by the Scottish Government”. 

The news follows Transport Scotland’s announcement last October that it would not “re-base” the contract with Serco, which has held the franchise since 2015. Serco said at the time that the service had been “loss-making over the life of the contract and the proposals that we made to Transport Scotland were to put it on a more sustainable financial footing”. 

Under rail franchising laws, the Scottish Government then had to consider a “direct award” to Serco before taking a decision on transferring it to a state-owned “operator of last resort” - the same arrangement by which ScotRail has been delivered since April last year. 

Announcing the new plans for Caledonian Sleeper, Gilruth told the Scottish Parliament: “I am confident that, under those arrangements, we can build on our experience of public sector operation to ensure that the bright future that we see for the Caledonian Sleeper is protected.” 

She praised the operator’s performance under Serco management, noting: “Its revenues over the past year outstrip pre-pandemic performance, and its forward bookings are stronger than ever.” 

Read this article in full in RAIL issue 979 here

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