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New Caledonian Sleeper carriages delayed until next spring

The introduction of the new Caledonian Sleeper carriages, which were expected to be in operation by the end of this month, has been further delayed until May 2019.

The carriages are to include en-suite bathrooms and double beds and will operate between London, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Rail operator Serco said that 40 of the 75 sleeper carriages ordered from CAF are now in the UK and the remaining 35 are in the final build stage in Spain and will be delivered over the coming weeks.

Serco noted that, as this is the first introduction of new sleeper rolling stock in the UK of rover 35 years, the process of testing and gaining regulatory and operating approvals is “time consuming and complex.”

National media reported that transport secretary Michael Matheson said in a letter to Serco: “I note your confidence that new trains will be ready for service by spring 2019, and thank you for the explanation of challenges experienced in the programme so far.

“However I would like a robust explanation for Serco’s plans to address these in the future, together with full assurance on dates when we can expect to see new trains.”

Ryan Flaherty, Serco’s managing director at Caledonian Sleeper, said: “Our new trains will mark a magical new chapter in rail travel in the UK.  The new sleeper carriages are absolutely superb, and will transform the experience of travelling by train between Scotland and England. 

“We are sorry that we will not be able to launch the service this autumn, and understand that customers who wanted to travel on them in 2018 will be disappointed.  But with five different accommodation types, as well as on board catering, dining and shower facilities, this is the most complex introduction of new rolling stock ever undertaken in the UK, and we are determined to get it right.”

Guests who booked the service during this time will be offered the chance to reschedule their booking or receive a full refund if the no longer wish to travel. Passengers who still wish to travel will be offered the cost difference.

Caledonian Sleeper services hit bottom of Network Rail’s Public Performance Measures last November. However, Serco says that since taking over the Caledonian Sleeper service in 2015, the number of people travelling on it has increased by over 20%, “making it one of the fastest-growing services in the UK.”

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