Caledonian Sleeper

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by Essexman, 10 Jan 2019.

  1. yorkie

    yorkie Forum Staff Staff Member Administrator

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    Just a gentle reminder that if anyone wishes to post ideas, to please create a thread in the Speculative Ideas section (or reply to an existing one, if appropriate). Thank you.

    If someone else goes off topic please do not continue the off topic discussion. If you wish to reply, please create a new thread at this point. Feel free to report the first off topic post using the report button and let us know the details.
     
  2. Ben.A.98

    Ben.A.98 Member

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    I travelled on the Northbound Lowlander last night in the seats. I went in with the mindset that it was all going to be poor after what I had read on here, however I am pleased to say that I was pleasantly surprised by it.

    Upon entry there are huge racks for luggage, better than the two small ones offered in the mark 2s. The seats weren't as bad as I would have thought, I did manage to get comfortable after a while and get a reasonable amount of sleep. Still prefer the old seats though. The air con was good departing London as it was quite warm, however through the night and upon arrival at Glasgow it became quite cold. One part I didn't like was the vents that blow up towards the windows, the windows were covered in fluff and dust. The lighting was in my opinion rather intense in comparison with the old coaches, a half lighting or dimmable option would be good.

    As a bonus, the train both departed and arrived on time.
     
  3. mralexn

    mralexn Member

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    Departed and arrived on time? are you sure you were not "dreaming"...

    I'll get my coat on the way out ;)
     
  4. Hipster Dashie

    Hipster Dashie Member

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    Always been curious to try the seated option out, just to see what it's like and say that it's a thing I've done. I know it'll be a terrible idea though based on the fact I struggle to sleep in the beds sometimes, let alone a seat!

    But certainly the rate of ridiculous incidents and failures seems to be letting up a wee bit over the last few days. Are we starting to turn a bit of a corner I hope!?
     
  5. Bodiddly

    Bodiddly Member

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    It's awful! I've done both Caledonian and Night Riviera on the seats and it's brutal!
     
  6. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Fundamentally depends if you can sleep in a seat or not. I slept better on the Riviera seats as I had a pair and could sort of curl up on two seats.
     
  7. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Established Member

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    switch to 'night shift' a couple of days before - do the seats mid summer for max daylight and stay awake with a good book!

    As a prev post said on this thread - 'you can sleep at night in a bed 364 other days of the year'....
     
  8. Antman

    Antman Established Member

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    But presumably,have modern electronics which will massively,aid adhesion and minimise slippage etc so should outperform a 60 year old design....
     
  9. al78

    al78 Established Member

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    No thanks, if I am using the sleeper, it is because I am on holiday, so is supposed to be enjoyable, not a test of endurance. :rolleyes:
     
  10. 387gwr

    387gwr Member

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    I agree!

    Just can't wait for the mark 5s to replace the horrible mark 2s
     
  11. DelW

    DelW Member

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    Are they really that much worse than flying long-haul in economy overnight? Usually on those I can manage to get comfortable enough to at least doze for a few hours. I find it helps that the lights are dimmed right down, though, whereas some have reported the lights in the seated coaches stay full brightness all night, which I wouldn't like.
     
  12. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    No, it's much better than that. More like flying premium economy overnight due to the substantial amount of extra space. That's the big selling point over the road coach - the latter basically is exactly the same as flying economy in terms of the experience.

    Even the Riviera with its non-reclining 2+2 seats is better than economy overnight, simply because the capacity provided is well in excess of demand so you're near certain of a double seat to yourself, and the legroom is generous too.

    (The reason for the excess capacity is that its viability is helped by it being a commuter train after Plymouth, and once you get to about 0630 it does start getting fairly busy)

    That is certainly an issue that needs to be looked at - the standard rules really don't make sense in this context. If you can't sleep with lights on you definitely need a mask.
     
  13. Essexman

    Essexman Member

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    I've sent the following email to CS -


    Dear Sir / Madam


    I write as a regular user of the sleeper for the last twenty years, for business, leisure and travel as a book author.


    I am a strong supporter or rail and particularly sleeper travel, and it has been disappointing to see and personally experience some of your problems over the last few month.


    Firstly I would like to make two claims for compensation.


    Tuesday 25th June Euston – Glasgow


    No water in en suite shower, toilet, or basin in the cabin.

    As I was not able to use these services which were included in my ticket I would be grateful to receive compensation for the difference between a Classic & Club Class ticket.


    Friday 28th June Inverness – Euston


    As this train was formed of ‘classic’ stock not the new coaches I would be grateful to receive the advertised compensation of £20.


    I would be happy to receive the compensation in the form of rail travel vouchers. Tickets are attached.


    Communication


    I appreciate that technical issues will arise on a railway, particularly with new stock, and that many of these are unavoidable. I would however like to raise the issue of communication and customer service, which is in the control of Caledonian Sleeper and where better performance would have helped mitigate the technical issues.


    For example:


    The lounge car was out of service on my train from Inverness (28th June). On joining the train I was told that all passengers had been informed but I did not receive an email or text. This information could have been shown on the train departure board at Inverness so that those passengers passing through the station earlier, or arriving early for the train would have had more notice about the lack of catering on the sleeper.


    Your new checking in system means that staff are no longer easily available to assist passengers when they board or to sort out problems. It is also less personal and friendly than the old system where passengers met their host at the carriage door. As a result of this system no one came to investigate the lack of water in my cabin (25th June) until after midnight, by which time I was in bed.


    Your website could be used to better effect to inform passengers of service status. There used to be a banner at on the front page and it would be helpful if this was put back. Not only should it inform of delays or other problems, but also the positive news (as you often used to show) that all trains are boarding on time and arriving on time.


    Your Twitter service is inconsistent and leaves much room for improvement. Questions are often not answered and your Twitter presence seems to disappear for many hours during the day. Given the nature of your operation I would suggest that a 24 hour presence is required at times of disruption and from 7am to midnight when the service is running well.


    You have been slow to provide information to passengers through the recent disruption. I appreciate that sometimes you may not be aware of the need to cancel or delay to services until close to departure, but there have been occasions when an outside observer could know that a train will not run, or will almost certainly not run, well before you announced it. Where stock is out of place from previous issues, unless it is being moved empty during the day (which seems rare) you should be able to announce cancellation earlier.


    When half a set was under repair for wheel flats and you could only run to / from either Glasgow or Edinburgh, not both, it would have been helpful if you had published a rolling plan for say the next week ahead to say which train would definitely run and which would be cancelled if stock was not available. This would have meant that half of the Lowlander passengers would have known their train would run, rather than all having doubt.


    An example of the difficulties caused by insufficient information. I would have switched my Glasgow booking to the Fort William train and travelled back to Glasgow from Dumbarton but there was no information provided on which I could base this decision until after the deadline for cancelling a Flexipass booking.


    Staff


    I would like to add that despite all the recent problems I have found that all of your staff, on and off trains, have continued to be helpful and cheerful, as ever.


    Future


    As a regular business user of the sleeper I am concerned about both reliability and cost. Both will determine the extent of my future usage.


    I’m confident that the initial problems with the new stock will be resolved but am concerned at the very limited availability of spare locomotives that are compatible with these coaches.


    If the Flexipass pass price increases significantly I will no longer be able to justify using the sleeper on a regular basis.


    Yours sincerely
     
  14. side effect

    side effect Member

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    Last year on the highlander to Inverness me and my son were telling the host how sad it will be to see the seated section replaced by the mark 5s. We were told they would be much more comfy and that the seats in front would display exactly where we were.

    I have done 1 journey on the new seated section and they are no way more comfortable than the current ones.

    Will always use the sleeper as we love it but thank goodness we don't have to stay seated throughout the journey.

    Hopefully be travelling soon again, regardless.
     
  15. side effect

    side effect Member

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    It maybe helps that I take a muscle relaxant and sleeping tablet that helps me.
     
  16. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Established Member

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    Shame that for whatever reason they don't have your e-mail (assume you bought tickets in a way that meant they did not have it given to them direct) as you might have got one of their surveys or the surveys they are getting Transport Focus to do for them, to make all these excellent points.
     
  17. Essexman

    Essexman Member

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    They have my email as I bought the Flexipass ticket from them.
     
  18. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Established Member

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    ah, but didn't use it to contact you ahead of the journey or afterwards for customer satisfaction survey purposes? I don't know how flexipasses work so apols if not a logical manner in which they ought to know which train you were on to warn you.

    Last time I booked I booked with CS by phone but had the ticket e-mailed to me so assume I was linked to a specific train etc - in fact the survey message started along lines of 'Our records show that you traveled on the xx.xx on 'date' to Aberdeen and we'd like to ask you a few questions about your experience on that journey' etc etc
     
  19. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Veteran Member

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    Having read this thread recently, I was steeling myself for the worst when I made a northbound lowlander trip earlier this week. This was my first sleeper trip in over a decade.

    Arriving at Euston at 2235, I was pleased to see boarding in progress. The boarding process was very smooth, perhaps 60 seconds from presenting myself to the first CS team member on the platform to being in my room. Certainly quicker and easier than any hotel I’ve been in (and I’ve been in a lot recently). It looked like the service was full, or close to it. The seats were nearly full too.

    First impressions of the room were great. Not big, granted (I didn’t expect it to be), but everything was there and worked, including the ensuite. It was very well presented. Plenty of space under the bed for my (big) bag. Charging points a plenty. Cradles to put your phone / tablet in while charging. Nice bag of toiletries.

    I withdrew to the lounge car, which was about half full. I was immediately seen to by a member of staff and a cold beer was on the table within a minute. The car filled up before departure (which when it happened, was imperceptible). All the other guests in the lounge car were tourists - American or Japanese. All had food and drinks. All were delighted (from what I could tell). One party of four had to sit on the ‘bar’ seats, but were invited to move to a table when it became vacant. I stayed for a couple more beers (which were lovely).

    Back in my room, I went to bed. It is definitely longer than the old beds, as I now fit (unless I’ve shrunk considerably!), although they felt a little narrower. The bedding was much more comfortable than last time I use the sleeper, but that may be a more recent development generally. I was directly above the wheels, but the ride seems a little better than the old stock. I definitely slept better than on the old stock, and I put that down to the longer bed. I did wake most times we stopped though (as per the old stock). Room temperature was fine; I had no issues with the light from either the light switch or from the corridor - frankly this was negligible.

    The detachment at Carstairs went without incident; the air con switching off was the only reason I knew it was happening (and therefore where we were).

    In the morning, a bacon roll was delivered to my room at exactly the time ordered the previous evening. I then had a shower - which was much better than I expected. Temperature good, power good.

    Arrival into Edinburgh was just about on time.

    The only issues I observed were:

    1) the staff ‘call for service’ tone was ringing regularly in the lounge car from boarding until a little after departure. I assume this was various people wanting room service. It was a bit annoying but I managed to tune it out after a while.

    2) when someone flushed the ensuite next door I could hear it. Same as most hotels with adjacent bathrooms, but perhaps more obvious as the rooms are smaller.

    3) I made the mistake of having a shower whilst we were stopped at a signal somewhere north of Carstairs, on heavily canted track. A little of the waste water did come through the door into the main cabin, but most was caught by the bath mat (which the instructions made clear was to be placed outside). What was left had dried by the time of arrival at Edinburgh.

    4) one passenger appeared in the lounge car for a drink around midnight, because her air con wasn’t working.


    In summary:

    * A vast improvement on the old stock, in comfort, presentation and general ‘feel’
    * crew were magnificent (and plenty of them)
    * punctual
    * a couple of very minor issues
    * will be very popular with tourists - who don’t seem put off by the pricing
    * I still don’t sleep well on a sleeper (but better than the old stock)
    * I will use it again.

    Of course many people have had issues with the service, but I thought I would lend some balance to the debate.

    Perhaps all those on the thread providing their views on the service and the failings of CS (and what should happen to them) who have yet to sample it should wait until they use it before commenting.
     
    Last edited: 4 Jul 2019
  20. side effect

    side effect Member

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    Years ago I always imagined having a nice drink in the lounge bar once my kids were old enough to travel but made the best choice I could have made by giving up alcohol. That's helped me make 20 journeys on the sleeper, 1 flight Inverness to Gatwick and got the coach back one Saturday night.

    The next 3 years cannot come quick enough before I move there.
     
  21. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Established Member

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    Not sure I'd move to Gatwick as my 1st choice though...:lol:
     
  22. side effect

    side effect Member

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    My mistake. Ideally I would like somewhere in the Cairngorns where I could walk down and watch the sleeper sometimes, or one of the islands. I cannot handle the busyness of Stratford and surroundings anymore.
     
  23. Kendalian

    Kendalian Member

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    No lounge car tonight Inverness southbound....another night confined to the cells by Serco :rolleyes:
     
  24. EE Andy b1

    EE Andy b1 Established Member

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    If i was CS i would get CAF to pay towards a few more spare lounge cars.
     
  25. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Established Member

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    yeah - I knew what you meant - good luck with it - well deserved choice I'd say, if you can do it!
     
    Last edited: 4 Jul 2019
  26. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    It's the Mk2 ones that are the issue. The most useful additional coach would be a 2+2-seated TSO as a FW day coach.
     
  27. side effect

    side effect Member

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    Never got a notice on Twitter like they usually post but I see a reply to someone regarding the lounge bar.
     
  28. John Bishop

    John Bishop Member

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    They recently returned at least 2 decent Mk 2s back to Wensleydale, I think at least 1 was in CS livery.
    Perhaps they need to get them back again or are they that bothered by the lounge car not being available?
     
  29. Beebman

    Beebman Member

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    That 'someone' is Harry Cole, Deputy Political Editor for the Mail on Sunday. Not good for CS to have a senior national newspaper journalist tweeting about a lack of service.
     
  30. Chrism20

    Chrism20 Established Member

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    Maybe not quite the same league but the deputy news editor of the metro was also caught up in last Fridays cancellation on the Glasgow southbound.
     

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