Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth MSP has announced the nationalisation of the Caledonian Sleeper.
The service has been managed by Serco since 2015 and the company is said to have lost almost £70 million in that time. Requests for significant increases in funding which the Minister deemed ‘not value for money’, led to the decision at the end of last year to terminate Serco’s franchise early.
Amid speculations about the future of the Sleeper service between London and Scotland, Transform’s rail spokesperson, Paul Tetlaw, states:
A nationalisation of the overnight train service presents the Government with an opportunity to act on climate and cut emissions from domestic aviation. In the event that the Sleeper is switched to public hands, we expect to see the establishment of a close working relationship with ScotRail to maximise the ease of use of the rail network in Scotland. This, in turn, will help build passenger numbers which have so far failed to rise to pre-pandemic levels.
Transform also expects the changeover to prompt investigations into alternative routes and destinations (such as Oban), as well as routing sleeper trains though Birmingham to help provide more journey opportunities and boost patronage.
In addition to this, new management must pursue aggressive marketing, promoting Scotland as a destination and highlighting the many places served by — and the many benefits of — the overnight service.