Alighting from the Highland sleeper at Edinburgh

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by rosschap, 18 Aug 2015.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. rosschap

    rosschap Member

    Messages:
    35
    Joined:
    2 Sep 2012
    Hey everyone, I had somewhat of a unique experience back in April. I wonder, have any of you alighted/boarded the Highland Caledonian Sleeper at Edinburgh Waverley?

    For my birthday in April I decided to go on my first ever sleeper journey whilst I had a few days off. On the Monday I went up to Euston in the evening and took the 2115 highland sleeper on the Inverness portion, in a 1st class berth. This was only a few days after the Serco takeover from Scotrail so I was interested to see what changes they had implemented. I was booked onto coach J (?) but was told when boarding that I was moved to coach L. It surfaced that coach J was empty - this was presumably done so that all of the passengers were in one coach. This was OK as the opposite berth was vacant until someone entered it at Crewe and I could hear everything!

    Overall I found it to be a very enjoyable and civilised experience - those of you who have travelled it before will probably agree. Haggis neeps & tatties with whisky was very nice. However, my sleep was less than great. In fact, when the sleeper pulled in to Waverley at around 4am to couple with the Aberdeen and Fort William portions, I had only just got to sleep. Indeed, waking up travelling in the opposite direction is rather odd!

    The newly introduced "highland breakfast" never actually surfaced. The steward was very apologetic in telling me that he had accidentally given my breakfast to someone else. In the end I ended up with a Bacon roll.

    One nice thing at Inverness is the new "guest services centre" first class lounge located just opposite the station. The brand new showers were a godsend and I freshened up before my 10am departure to Thurso.

    Fast forward 6 hours, during which I had a fantastic time on the Far North Line going up, I boarded the 4pm departure back to Inverness. I was due to change there and Stirling to get to Edinburgh where I was supposed to stay the night. My train was delayed at Georgemas Junction by a freight train by about 15 minutes and despite not stopping at many of the request stops, failed to make up time. I had only left 5-10 minutes for my connection at Inverness and Stirling. This sounds foolish, but in reality these were all the last trains of the day.

    So I missed the connection at Inverness and the guard took me and one other passenger with a connection to the station staff. The only other train departing that evening in our direction was the Sleeper. So, after having a word with the seated car guard, we were allowed on the sleeper (with my advance ticket). I was told that I could alight at Edinburgh. I knew that generally you can't do this but I thought I would wait to see how it played out. I wonder what would happen if I had missed the sleeper. Would Scotrail have put me in a hotel in Inverness for the night?

    The atmosphere of the seated car was very different. It was quite empty, very run down and nobody ordered any food or drink, most people just laid across 2 or 3 seats and slept.

    5 1/2 to 6 hours later at around 2am (I think I underestimated the size of Scotland) I arrived in Edinburgh Waverley station. The other passenger who missed their connection at Inverness got off around Dunblane, and either Scotrail or the Sleeper had arranged a taxi to take her the rest of the journey to her final destination.

    I had to wait a while for the train to get into a platform and couple before the guard (by this time someone else) let me off. I had never been to this station before and he said "right the exit's that way". I was stuck in the station for around 20-30 minutes trying all the exits. Obviously the station was closed to the public at this time as usually no-one is allowed to board or alight the sleeper here. The only people that were there were cleaning & Network Rail Staff. The first guard on the sleeper had told me that they had spoken to staff at Waverley to let them know I would be alighting - either this was a lie or the message didn't get through.

    I started to get really worried that I was going to be locked in this station. Eventually I found someone and told him I NEED TO GET OUT. He asked what I was still doing there and I explained the whole situation. He kindly opened an exit for me on the other side that my hotel was. Another 20 minutes walk later and I finally arrived at my hotel at around 3am - I was absolutely exhausted.

    I wonder, if anyone else has alighted or boarded the Highland sleeper at Edinburgh?

    Overall, I enjoyed the adventure. I would like to try the FGW sleeper, but might not use the Caledonian that much, however I'm looking forward to trying their new sleeper cars coming "in 2018".
     
  2. Registered users do not see these banners - join or log in today!

    Rail Forums

     
  3. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

    Messages:
    20,979
    Joined:
    28 Aug 2011
    Location:
    Scotland
    I know it isn't quite what you mean, but at certain times of the year seated Fort William passengers have to change coach to the Aberdeen seated portion on the down Highland.
     
  4. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

    Messages:
    4,211
    Joined:
    1 Aug 2013
    I can tell you that in the 1970s Waverley station was a hive of activity all through the night, although there weren't that many passenger departures in the small hours there were a few, and plenty of parcels and papers trains to make up the night staff's work. There was always a taxi to be had at the bottom of the ramp. The curious thing is that, compared to nowadays, there was hardly any activity outside the station, the streets in wintertime were deserted.

    It would also be the case at that time that if the last train in from the Far North was going to arrive at Inverness 5-10 minutes after the last train left for the south, no way would the latter have been sent off first, and anyone in the management chain who suggested it should be would have been sidelined as incompetent. The fact that there were only two of you making the connection nowadays just shows how what I recall was once a substantial connecting traffic has been driven away by stupidity.

    A curious habit of people travelling home from Edinburgh/Glasgow to Wick etc in the 1970s was, when there was a midday connection of a couple of hours in Inverness, they would go to the cinema, which in those days was opposite the station, and apparently had more up to date films than the little places in the Far North.
     
    Last edited: 18 Aug 2015
  5. PermitToTravel

    PermitToTravel Established Member

    Messages:
    3,044
    Joined:
    21 Dec 2011
    Location:
    Groningen
    The 16:00 from Wick is a timetabled connection to the Stirling/Glasgow train at Inverness as there is 5 minutes between the arrival of one and the departure of the other; 5 minutes is the minimum connection time at Inverness. Had there not been a sleeper to send you on I think they'd have been more likely to send you in a taxi than find you a hotel
     
  6. DEE-DE

    DEE-DE Member

    Messages:
    119
    Joined:
    25 Oct 2014
    On one of my journeys on the Highland Sleeper someone booked to Dundee had to change their plans only went to Edinburgh. I was supposed to share with them but I was placed in a different berth by the attendant.
     
  7. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

    Messages:
    20,979
    Joined:
    28 Aug 2011
    Location:
    Scotland
    I've had the experience of having the southbound train held at Inverness so it still happens.
     
  8. PermitToTravel

    PermitToTravel Established Member

    Messages:
    3,044
    Joined:
    21 Dec 2011
    Location:
    Groningen
    I imagine it depends on how late they think the Far North train will be - if it's far away, then the total delay to the few making the connection as they wait for the sleeper might be less than the total delay to the passengers already on that train - particularly if the latter group then miss their connection at Stirling
     
  9. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

    Messages:
    4,211
    Joined:
    1 Aug 2013
    But the OP described it wasn't far away, it was 15 minutes down, which means it arrived 10 minutes after the southbound train left. It was also the last train of the day.

    If you then miss the connection at Stirling that can only be because this train, connecting into the last train of the day to Edinburgh, also had its connection sent away just before the incoming arrived, and the same approach to holding connections surely applies. Goodness, how difficult it is nowadays to have to explain things step by step, which a generation ago staff of all grades just did as a matter of course.
     
  10. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

    Messages:
    20,979
    Joined:
    28 Aug 2011
    Location:
    Scotland
    But at same time, you need to look at the impact of holding one train on other trains. I could be wrong as I only looked very quickly, but holding the Glasgow train would cause a delay to the inbound train from Glasgow because it would miss the timed passing at Tomatin, which would mean that you would also have to hold the Inverness to Tain and Inverness to Aberdeen departures. So that's four trains-worth of passengers delayed, or two passengers put onto the Sleeper and a couple of taxis. Not a difficult call to make.
     
  11. backontrack

    backontrack Established Member

    Messages:
    5,631
    Joined:
    2 Feb 2014
    Location:
    The UK
    I wonder if I'd be able to use this as an excuse on The Next Station Is... <D

    (I jest.)
     
  12. 47271

    47271 Established Member

    Messages:
    2,720
    Joined:
    28 Apr 2015
    I too found myself unable to leave Waverley after hours once, although this was due to a very late last train from Glasgow that hadn't been communicated to station staff, and not odd (and a bit unsafe I have to think) arrangements with the sleeper shunt.

    Like you, we wondered how it would end, but a man quickly appeared out of nowhere and opened the gate to the Waverley Steps for us. He must've been busy because our Friday night train was very full and my wife and myself were by far the most sober people getting off it!
     
  13. Crossover

    Crossover Established Member

    Messages:
    7,912
    Joined:
    4 Jun 2009
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    I believe it is quite common for it to be held - indeed when I did it a few weeks ago, we were 10L heading towards Inverness (late running northbound and single line sections aren't a good mix!) the guard was making enquiries - there were quite a few of us! Luckily, we made up some time and arrived only 4L and a quick dash across and we were on the last Glasgow train and left pretty much RT

    I would imagine they can hold it a few minutes - the southbound Glasgow got looped for about 10 minutes to allow a northbound to pass, so whilst they couldn't hold it for long, with the recovery time on the Far North service and the loop, they could likely get away with 10 minutes
     
  14. yorkie

    yorkie Forum Staff Staff Member Administrator

    Messages:
    45,846
    Joined:
    6 Jun 2005
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    Many people will have alighted from the West Highland portion as it terminates there (except the sleeper coaches which attach to the ex-Aberdeen and Inverness portions).

    I'm surprised no exits were open as the ex-Inverness portion is due to arrive only 6 minutes after the West Highland.
    ex-Fort William seated passengers travelling beyond Edinburgh always have to change coach to the ex-Aberdeen portion on the Up Highland.
     
  15. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

    Messages:
    20,979
    Joined:
    28 Aug 2011
    Location:
    Scotland
    Thanks, I thought that was the case but I remembered a conversation about the consist changing between summer and winter.
     
  16. yorkie

    yorkie Forum Staff Staff Member Administrator

    Messages:
    45,846
    Joined:
    6 Jun 2005
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    I believe there is/can be an additional sleeper coach on the Fort William portion and one less on the Aberdeen in Summer.
     
  17. IslandDweller

    IslandDweller Member

    Messages:
    72
    Joined:
    5 Dec 2011
    I think "can be" applies. I saw the Fort William portion en route a few times last week and it was just the usual 4 carriages.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page