Any reviews of the ScotRail Caledonian Sleeper service?

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This topic contains 19 replies, has 15 voices, and was last updated by  DavidGordon10 1 Jun 2014
at 10:44

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  • Anonymous


    I have an early morning engagement in Inverness coming up. As I live in London, the options are (a) fly up the night before or (b) the sleeper service. I have not been by sleeper to Inverness since 1990 – has anyone travelled on the London-Scotland sleepers more recently and can advise me of the pros and cons?

    Many thanks.


    Pros – it’s leisurely, the lounge bar isn’t amazing but nice enough, usually have a wide range of malt whiskies etc.
    There’s is definitely something special about this service, and as thr train trundles through Watford and the suburbs of London, enjoying a drink with others is really lovely!
    The cabins are small but perfectly formed, clean laundry etc.
    First Class and Standard Class ticket holders (not Standard Class supplement holders) can use Virgin First Class lounge at Euston

    Cons – timekeeping wise it’s not the best.
    If you don’t want to share then it is a pricey option.
    I travelled standard class and had a cabin to myself which was great
    Personally, I find it hard to sleep but that could be me. I always feel like the carriage is moving in all directions!
    Cabins are not ensuite

    Have you seen this website? s the sleeper like



    Thank you. The website was very interesting, and personally I have always found the man in seat 61 entirely reliable, so if he has good words to say …

    My only comment is that it does not look like the service or the train set has changed much in the 20+ years since I last tried it!


    You are right Cedric – it hasn’t. I’ve used it twice in the last 18 years (once each way) and I didn’t notice a difference.

    I can sleep fine on ferries & ships, but on this found it much more difficult to get a good rest.

    Given the option again, I would avoid it.


    The fact that it hasn’t changed much is one of its attractions, and despite the toll of years it’s not too shabby.

    A dram or two in the lounge is a good start and will help the onset of sleep although unlike Jimmy Stewart (there’s a good Scots name) in North by Northwest you’re unlikely to encounter an Eve Marie Saint sitting opposite you, so make the most of it by ordering a bottle of Traquair Jacobite Ale as a consolation. Dark and rich, it beats anything that other train companies can provide.

    The best thing about the journey, although now that we’re back on GMT it won’t necessarily be of enormous benefit to you, is wakening up somewhere north of Pitlochry, and either seeing the morning light sparkle on the Garry as it flows down the Drumochter Pass or if it’s dark perhaps a dusting of snow around Dalwhinnie reflecting the last of the moonlight. Then again, it will probably be raining.

    But whatever the weather there’s a real sense of a proper journey through the traveller’s night from soft south to God’s country that beats zipping up into the clouds and dropping back down again an hour and a half later into Dalcross.


    Yes, Cedric, you are correct. The rolling stock dates back to the ’80s.

    Sleeper trains in this country lose money and there have been several attempts to close them all down.

    However, funds are being made available to sustain the services and improve the rolling stock.


    It has been a couple of years since I last used the service between Edinburgh and London, but I have to say that it is quite enjoyable. I have tended to use First class, which whilst a bit pricey, when you weigh up the cost of travel and overnight accomodation its not too bad.

    Travelling south, there is the lounge to get a shower and a change of clothes, but it is a shame there are not the facilities in the Scottish cities which would make it even more attractive.


    We used it North bound last summer, asides from the lack of shower facilities in Edinburgh, thought it really good. Take an airline eyecover, and relax into the sound and motion of the train… lovely


    Cedric, further to the previous reply, in Inverness, you can have a shower and freshen up in the STATION HOTEL, Inverness on showing your sleeper ticket. And there’s a good Scottish breakfast available! The trains have speeded up now, but in the past,you could obtain dinner & breakfast in a restaurant car on this train. Good luck whatever you decide!


    My wife and I travelled from Euston to Fort William return in standard class about 2 weeks ago. We only paid £99 return for both of us – a ScotRail promotion which may still be available.

    The train is somewhat dated but the the cabin was fine with a wash basin, sheets, duvet and a morning tea or coffee and biscuits. The train is formed of 15 carriages between Euston and Edinburgh. The train splits into 3 at Edinburgh about 0400. The three trains then proceed to Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William. The reverse occurs on the return at Edinburgh at about midnight. This can be noisy and disruptive.

    The highlight is travelling through the highlands at dawn in the club car and seeing the Moors, the Lochs, deer and stags – stunning.

    We have travelled on the Indian Pacific – Sydney to Perth – and the Ghan- Adelaide to Alice Springs – in Austrailia. They are fitted with ensuite facilities with a shower which is not the case in the Caledonian Sleeper. Nonetheless, worth the trip as a tourist – debatable as a business trip.


    Fellow posters all

    Well, I duly took the sleeper last week – northbound to Inverness, and splashed out on First class for the single berth (more out of respect for anyone forced to share with my snoring, you understand).

    Having done so I am fair and square with those who recommended the journey. The Virgin lounge at Euston shows all the signs of neglect that you would expect, given that they did not think they would keep the WCML franchise, but from the moment I got on the train the journey was comfortable, pleasant and at times really rather enjoyable. And for someone who travels far too much to say that about any travel at all these days is a significant compliment.

    The lounge car was definitely the highlight. Comfortable chairs, an adequate menu and a fine selection of whiskies got me in the mood. There is something rather nice about sipping a good malt as one travels through the commuterland of north London, Harrow and Watford, and watching people hurry home considerably less relaxed than you are.

    The cabin is adequate and the bed surprisingly comfortable – I slept well, and was not woken at all by the train-splitting and shunting in the small hours. I would not want to do more than 12 hours on the train – the facilities are not up to those on the true long distance trains of the world such as the Australian trains mentioned above by AuldReekie39, or the trans-Canada trains (which I have been on), but that does not matter for a short journey.

    Being December I missed out on dawn over the Highlands (it was still pitch-dark when I woke) but we rolled into Inverness on time to the minute and breakfast in the Station Hotel rounded off a most pleasant way to make my 10.00 am appointment in the Capital of the Highlands.

    Many thanks to those who answered my request for advice and I will now count myself among those in favour of this service!


    That’s great to hear.

    I was last on the Sleeper over three years ago and I slept for about two hours.


    I’ve used it a couple of times but didn’t find it that practical for business. Lack of any showers isn’t ideal and if you are going to Glasgow you end up on the platform quite early.

    It’s a good experience though, I slept like a log.


    At last, the tired rolling stock which operates the ScotRail Caledonian Sleeper service in in line for an upgrade.

    The present coaches are almost 40 years ago so when the franchise comes up for renewal the successful bidder must agree to substantially improve the service.

    Improvements could start in 2015 backed by £100 million in investment from the Scottish and UK governments.

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