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RMT accused of ‘completely inaccurate’ Caledonian Sleeper claims after disruption

A Caledonian Sleeper had to be pulled from service on the Edinburgh-London route yesterday (19 August) after an electrical fault with the microwave in the catering galley.

The RMT criticised train operator Serco for “reducing the operation to total chaos with defective rolling stock removed from service” with “staff left to take the blame from angry passengers”.

Passengers were forced to either take buses or wait for the Virgin 5.40am service to King’s Cross.

The union also claimed that the fault caused a fire in the catering area, but a Caledonian Sleeper spokesperson told RTM that this was “completely inaccurate” and that there was no fire.

However, in a separate incident, the operator did have to remove all passengers from a seated car on an overnight Highlander service after a technical fault with the motor alternator, which controls the heat and light.

A Caledonian sleeper spokesperson told RTM: “There was a fault in one carriage only, so all the passengers were moved onto another carriage. The car was withdrawn from service at Euston and all passengers were upgraded into berth.”

The spokesperson also rejected RMT’s allegations that passengers were left to make alternative arrangements.

Yet a union spokesperson told RTM that it was “absolute chaos” and added: “It shines a spotlight on the fact that there’s actually a more deep-seated problem with that particular contract and the fleet. We were always opposed to Serco running it, because of their track record running other public services.

“There’s clearly an endemic underlying problem with that operation that they’ve taken on the Scottish sleeper service that needs to be sorted out.”

Mick Cash, RMT’s general secretary, reiterated: “Not only are there repeated and potentially dangerous rolling stock defects, but we are aware of overselling as the route is milked for every penny.”

The RMT, which also represents maritime workers, is involved in a separate dispute with Serco over its bid to run the Clyde & Hebrides ferry service on Scotland’s west coast. It recently staged strike action over Serco’s bid, which the union sees as an example of privatisation.


Neil Palmer   20/08/2015 at 21:08

Mick Cash may or may not have a point here. The unfortunate thing is he cries wolf so often that he's lost all credibility and anything he says is taken with a grain of salt, just like his predecessor. It's too bad, because occasionally he does have a valid contribution to make.

Mark Webber   21/08/2015 at 08:52

The Caledonian Sleeper is chaos since Serco won the franchise. I frequently travel to London using the service and have never seen the train in such bad condition along with the constant delays.

Colin Redman   21/08/2015 at 16:18

Cash's whinging is minor compared to the disruption in late July and mid-August to the sleeper services - 3hours+ late arrivals, loco failures, wheel flats etc. It has been so bad that traction provider GBRF has hired in Class 90s from other operators, and also pressed into use electric locos dumped years ago by Virgin to work the full sleeper, not just the empties to and from the depot. The class 92s are a disaster, but funny how no one is complaining, and it seems Serco and GB are totally silent on the repeated problems. Time to take heads from the sand…...

Andrew Holder   26/08/2015 at 18:49

Class 73 There is no third rail in Scotland as the Class 73s run on third rail

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