There are ongoing calls to the Scottish Government to re-integrate the Caledonian Sleeper into the ScotRail operations upon the culmination of Serco’s franchise this coming June, seven years earlier than first thought.
Scottish Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth confirmed, on 4th October, that Serco’s proposal to re-base the franchise had been rejected “on the grounds of not representing value for money to the public”, terminating the £900m contract.
Given the current tumultuous time in the rail sector, where the industry is facing constant industrial action and operators like Avanti West Coast are struggling to fulfil their timetable obligations, it is vital that passenger numbers for the Caledonian Sleeper do not dwindle as a result of poor operational management.
The Scottish Government own and operate ScotRail through an arms-length company, where the sleeper franchise used to be managed, until it was split into a separate contract in 2015. This has led to many disappointed with Serco’s operational standards, calling for the Sleeper to be brought back into public control.
Scottish Labour transport spokesperson Neil Bibby echoed these sentiments by saying:
“This is a chance to bring the iconic Caledonian Sleeper into public hands and back into the ScotRail network.”
Serco have claimed that the sleeper “has 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.”
However, responding to a Parliamentary question, Gilruth said:
“I can confirm that a notice was served today which confirms that the Scottish ministers will terminate the franchise agreement with Serco Caledonian Sleepers Ltd on June 25, 2023.
“Work is under way to determine arrangements for the continued provision of Caledonian Sleeper rail services beyond June 25 2023, and this will be updated to Parliament once determined.”
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