While most of us are sleeping a small number of exclusive trains are connecting the some of the furthest apart towns and cities of the UK. These trains of the night are more like travelling hotels and are some of Britain's most exciting journeys. Ever since the 'Night Mail' film, overnight trains have developed a legendary appeal with the public. While Royal Mail has since abandoned the travelling post office, happily the traveller can still experience the amongst the best rail travel has to offer.
The Caledonian Sleepers (Scottish Towns to London)
The Caledonian Sleepers are Scotrail's premier long distance services connecting 40 Scottish towns and cities with London. Trains leave their destination in the evening and arrive early next morning at their destination. The sleepers offer leisure travellers with the option of more travel options and a comfortable journey, while business travellers particularly value avoiding early morning airline departures and can save a couple of nights hotel accommodation.
The Caledonian Sleepers currently operate on five Scottish routes with 40 departure / arrival points.
London (Euston Station) to Glasgow
London (Euston Station) to Edinburgh
London (Euston Station) to Fort William
London (Euston Station) to Inverness (and Stirling / Perth*)
London (Euston Station) to Aberdeen
* Passengers travelling to Stirling and Perth have the option of using the Edinburgh Sleeper thereby having longer in their berths.
The Onboard Experience
The sleepers offer a choice of either standard class seating or standard or first class berths.
Standard class seated sleeper. Each sleepers seated coach features air conditioning, comfortable 2/1 seating, reading lights and footrests. While these coaches are sold as standard class the seating used is actually the same as in First Class in day services. These are wider seats and have greater leg room. They also slightly recline. Once you get used to the motion of the train, you can get a good nights sleep in these coaches. A tip for new travellers is to take a small pillow or travel pillow and light blanket. You might also like to take eye shades (although the lights are dimmed) and a small bottle of water. Coach passengers have access to a buffet counter throughout the night which serves light hot and cold snacks and drinks. Princes on the sleeper tend to be reasonable.
Standard class berths. Standard class cabins feature two berths, a concealed washbasin with shaver point, individual air conditioning controls, reading lights and hand towels. Fresh cotton sheets and blankets are provided. In the morning a steward provides a light breakfast snack and tea or coffee delivered to your room. These cabins are ideal for two people travelling together. Single travellers may be required to share with someone of the same sex (or you can pay a supplement for single use of the cabin).
First class cabins. First class cabins are similar to the standard however they only have on berth for privacy and therefore are more spacious. In addition to the above features, there is a room service menu, complementary light breakfast, newspaper and toiletry pack. These cabins offer a peaceful and relaxing place to sleep and are ideal for the business traveller.
For people travelling together or in small groups, adjoining cabins can be combined with an interconnecting door. This applies to both the first and standard class cabins.
Lounge Car. First class passengers have access to the lounge car throughout the journey. Standard class passengers are also allowed in after departure should there be space. This coach has comfortable lounge seating and its a great place to socialise and meet fellow passengers. Stewards are on hand throughout the night to serve drinks and refreshments.
Station Lounges. A private lounge area for sleeper passengers is provided at Inverness. At Clarlisle customers can wait in the Lakes Court Hotel (outside the station). In Edinburgh the Scotrail lounge is available while in Glasgow the trains lounge car is opened early. In London sleeper passengers with First Class tickets can use the Virgin Trains lounge, while standard class ticket holders can use the passenger lounge located on the main concourse.
Showers. There are no showers onboard the trains. Showers are available at Edinburgh Waverly, Glasgow Central and Inverness. These are chargeable. First class passengers can use the showers at the Virgin Trains Lounge in Euston station free of charge. The journey is only one night so the use of a shower is not as important as some long journeys in other countries. However, if you were going on and you wanted a shower before your next journey, there are showers at Kings Cross station in London and its only a short walk from Euston.
Luggage Trolleys. These are provided at most stations along the routes for passengers to use. Sometimes a small charge is made (normally refundable on return of the trolley).
Normal standard and first class tickets are usually valid on the sleeper on payment of a supplement (currently £33 for standard class and £39 for first class berths). You should always book and reserve a place in advance as the sleeper can get fully booked at busy times of the year.
Often the best value fares are specific to the sleeper. Special tickets for seated, standard and first class berths are obtainable from ticket offices or direct from First Scotrail through their web site scotrail.co.uk or from their telesales office on 08457 55 00 33. Worth looking out for are the family tickets and bargain berths. These are only obtainable online and start at £19 per single journey.
Summary Caledonian Sleeper Train Times
Travelling South from:
Travelling North from London Euston
Note: The sleeper sometimes departs earlier on
Sundays, and does not stop at Crewe or Preston - check
* Please note that from summer 2007
the Plymouth and Penzance Sleepers will run as one
Sleeping Cars. The train like the Scottish counterparts
has a choice of standard or first class cabins. These
are similar with standard featuring twin berths and
first class cabins having single berths. There are
interconnecting doors between cabins if you are
travelling as part of a group and the train is fully air
conditioned with each cabin having individual controls.
Standard class sleeper passengers receive a
complementary toiletry pack, access to the lounge car,
wake up call and refreshments and the services of the
attendant. First class passengers (in addition to the
single berth cabin) receive a complementary newspaper
and breakfast in the morning and access to the first
class lounge at London Paddington.
Showers are available for all sleeper
passengers at London Paddington. Onward Eurostar
passengers travelling from the West Country can avoid
the busyness of the tube at rush hour with a
complementary taxi journey to Waterloo station. This
alone makes the sleeper an attractive option as the tube
in rush hour with luggage is not an enjoyable
Unlike the Scottish sleepers, there are
no special fares for the Night Riviera. Instead you can
book a standard ticket and travel on the seated coaches,
or simply pay a supplement for a sleeping car. The
supplements are currently priced at £36 for a First
Class single berth cabin, £31 for a single berth
standard cabin (this option is not available on the
Scottish sleepers) and £21 for a twin berth standard cabin.
Night Riviera Sleeper Train Times
© Britain By Rail 2010
This page was last updated 27-Apr-2011