Latest Rail News


New franchises take over Scotland’s railway and sleeper services

Rail north of the border underwent a major change overnight as ScotRail was handed over from First to Abellio and Caledonian Sleeper operated its first service as an independent franchise under Serco.

The new operator of ScotRail said that starting today it wants to begin “a new chapter in Scotland’s railways”.

“Abellio is proud to be serving Scotland and it is a privilege to be launching the new ScotRail from Stirling, at the heart of this magnificent country,” said Jeff Hoogesteger, CEO of Abellio Group. “Today begins a new chapter in the long story of Scotland’s railways. As the new stewards of a vital part of Scotland’s society and economy, we understand the responsibility given to us and will work every day to earn the faith that has been shown in us.”

Last month Abellio signed a contract with Hitachi for 46 three-car and 24 four-car AT200 EMUs to operate along the Edinburgh-Glasgow and Stirling-Alloa-Dunblane lines. They are due to go into service in 2017.

Other improvements being brought in by the new franchise include a full refurbishment of the existing fleet; a Scottish nationwide smartcard to serve an integrated transport network; and the UK’s first national cycle/rail network, with 3,500 new parking spaces, cycle hubs and cycle hire at stations.

Abellio will also launch services on the Borders Railway, the longest new domestic railway in the UK for over 100 years, on 6 September.

Dominic Booth, MD of Abellio UK said: “We are particularly excited about welcoming the Borders Railway into the ScotRail family, and introducing passengers to the delights of the tourism opportunities along this beautiful route in September. This new railway will deliver passenger services between Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders for the first time since the 1960s and we will celebrate the launch with a programme of steam services for the first six weeks.”

While ScotRail launched this morning, the first service of the new Caledonian Sleeper franchise was overnight last night. The inaugural service departed Fort William on Tuesday evening and arrived into London Euston this morning.

Peter Strachan, Serco’s MD for Caledonian Sleeper, said in advance of the launch: “This marks another exciting next stage in the transformation of the service and I plan to personally experience the inaugural journey alongside our first guests tomorrow night.

“We are looking forward to transforming the service into a world class hospitality experience and we will further enhance it ahead of the launch of the new fleet in 2018.”

Serco has ordered a new fleet for their franchise from Spanish train manufacturer CAF. The €200m agreement is for 75 coaches of five different types, formed into four trains of 16 coaches, plus 11 spare coaches for the franchise, operating the Highland and Lowland services.

The coaches will provide a mixture of travel options including, en-suite berths, standard berths, standard seats and POD seat. More on that deal, and the maintenance of the current fleet, here.

GB Railfreight will be supplying the locomotives and train drivers to haul the Caledonian Sleeper carriages as part of a £100m, 15 year contract.

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at [email protected]


W H Bushell   16/04/2015 at 14:01

Japanese trains Spanish sleeper cars German operator English taxpayer!!

Add your comment


Rail industry Focus

View all News


The challenge of completing Crossrail

05/07/2019The challenge of completing Crossrail

With a new plan now in place to deliver Crossrail, Hedley Ayres, National Audit Office manager, major projects and programmes, takes a look at ho... more >
Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

04/07/2019Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

The move to decarbonise the rail network involves shifting to cleaner modes of traction by 2050. David Clarke, technical director at the Railway ... more >

Most Read

'the sleepers' blog

On the right track, Sulzer is awarded RISAS accreditation for Nottingham Service Centre

29/06/2020On the right track, Sulzer is awarded RISAS accreditation for Nottingham Service Centre

Following an independent audit, Sulzer’s Nottingham Service Centre has been accepted as part of the rail industry supplier approval scheme (RISAS). The accreditation reinforces the high-quality standards that are maintained by Sulzer’s... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

24/06/2019Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail, has told the Today programme on Radio 4's BBC’s flagship news programme that he would not rule out his organisation issuing future r... more >
Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

08/05/2019Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

In answering the pressing questions of how current and future generations of managers can provide solutions to high-profile infrastructure projects across the UK, Pearson Business School, part of... more >