Caledonian Sleeper

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

  1. Jocques

    Jocques Member

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    As my return journey is a train to Crianlarich and then a rail replacement, I suppose I'll get to see the pleasant scenery still! Hopefully a better rail replacement coach than earlier today.
     
  2. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Member

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    Yes, and tourists are often (but obv not all) quite liable to make decisions to do or not do something on fairly limited availability of info - where rumour and a few posts on eg trip advisor make all the difference to deciding to do something or not. OK there are plenty of more adventurous and risk taking tourists but for those whom English is a second language there can be a lot of doubt about doing something where anything may go wrong as it's hard to enforce your 'rights' or get help when you don't speak the language or don't live in the country concerned.

    In my own case I'd never have traveled on Amtrak (which i love) had I taken the advice of any US citizen I actually know - who tended to say (based on limited actual experience themselves I discovered on questioning) - that in their view it is hopelessly late, staff often rude and customer service poor.

    Closer to home we have a trip to Liverpool planned soon. I advocated staying in a notable former railway hotel for the short break. Ms Lancer said she would sort the booking, after approx 5 mins or less of scanning tripadvisor this hotel was ruled out - rightly or wrongly.

    I'm sure the tourist market can be pretty fickle and it does not take much to put people off.
     
  3. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    If it's the one I'm thinking of, definitely rightly.

    "Just cook, will yer" :D

    (May be a bit of an in joke to Scousers :) )
     
  4. Essan

    Essan Member

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    That's probably why, but it's really annoying - a friend needs to catch the sleeper from London to join us in the Fort on the 30th for a major chairty walk (to Cape Wrath) and is unable to book anything, even though the line is supposed to reopen on the 22nd ...... I've had to suggest he considers getting the sleeper to Inverness and then bus down to the Fort.
     
  5. InOban

    InOban Established Member

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    I guess that they aren't confident in NR's completion date, and given the weather forecast, I don't blame them.
    If your friend has to fly, there are direct buses from Glasgow airport to Fort William - check the Citylink timetable
     
  6. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    And book in advance - they fill up even when the train is running normally.
     
  7. AndrewE

    AndrewE Established Member

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    but it's difficult to do that from Crewe. And would probably take as long (or even longer) if you count check-in and security checks at Manchester Airport. Of course we don't know how far Jocques had to travel to get the train at Crewe!
     
  8. InOban

    InOban Established Member

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    He said that his friend was catching the sleeper from London.
     
  9. paul1609

    paul1609 Established Member

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    Its not a premium service thats aimed at business travellers that market was taken by air 30 years ago. Its a premium service aimed at tourists. Others on the forum tell me that there are regulars who use the sleeper from intermediate stations on the highland mainline I'm sure thats correct but the Fort William has at best a couple of regulars, the service is sold out to tourists for the summer period and runs pretty empty in the winter. My last run southbound in March all the berths and the lounge had an electrical fault which meant we all were in the seated car and transferred at Edinburgh despite this the seated car wasn't even half full.
    The lowlander does appear to have some business travel but even on this tourists are by far the majority of the customers.
     
  10. bobbyrail

    bobbyrail Member

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    I would say that the two different services that Cal sleeper provide serve different market places, the low lander = mainly business and weekly commuters, the highlander = being mainly tourist with some local travel to London or vise-verse, although the flows will vary depending on the time of year.
     
  11. Norther Monkey

    Norther Monkey Member

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    The Highlander has it's weekly commuters too, of which I'm (an increasingly less regular) one, and have been for some years. Whilst air doubtless carries the bulk of this traffic the sleeper has some advantages.
    • A late departure from central London, often offering the latest practical time to leave work prior to travel.
    • Stops en-route, I've used Crewe and Preston where there is no air option at that time of day. If you live south of Inverness or Aberdeen this is also an advantage.
    • On occasion the ability to use an 'open' return with the option to use a day train on one leg has offered advantages (less do since berth upgrades increased significantly).
    • It's still a thoroughly civilised way to travel.
    Sadly the current prices now largely consign me to the seats or push me onto flights. As a commuter on something of a limited budget I don't feel Serco particularly wants my business.
     
  12. AndrewE

    AndrewE Established Member

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    No, I was actually replying to this:
     
  13. Djgr

    Djgr Member

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    Nobody local would recommend this hotel, which is a disgrace.
     
  14. gingerheid

    gingerheid Member

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    It's strange to read all these grim posts of dire gloom, and to see the associated bad publicity reach even my colleagues that would never have cause to travel by sleeper, who are in turn surprised that I not only still use it but do so perhaps even more than I used to.

    I mean it's not ideal, particularly with the price increases. But it's still the only way to travel, and in many cases the new trains are of course still more the only way to travel than before.

    Am I bitter about my breakfast not turning up on the last journey? You bet I am. Does it grate slightly that 20m or 30m late boarding isn't recognised as a something? Of course. The pain bites every time they reboot the train and the same carriage doesn't light up, or a different carriage doesn't light up.

    But... If you want to take sleeper trains from Scotland to England... what else are you going to do? The old trains were getting too old and the new ones are niiice, but new things do have problems. We're very lucky they replaced them; they might turn out to be almost the last sleeper carriages built in Europe.

    And the hotel on wheels thing... The railways grew out that before. They'll grow out it again.
     
  15. MrEd

    MrEd Member

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    I probably wouldn’t risk it, as I’m not sure that CS guards necessarily have any facility to read such a Smartcard (and I’m not convinced that CS accept them). I may well just visit a staffed ticket office somewhere and buy an anytime single before I head up. Many thanks for the info.
     
  16. MrEd

    MrEd Member

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    Very probably, and for only a fraction of the price too (that said, I do think that the Citylink bus fares are themselves on the expensive side, at least on the routes from Fort William and Inverness to Skye- perhaps CS have been advising them ;) ?). I have known passengers to literally gasp when being told the price for a local journey on it between Highland villages- a 5 mile journey between Kintail Lodge Hotel and Dornie will set you back £6.40 (Scotrail’s local fares over comparable distances seem a *lot* more reasonable). I don’t know how the Citylink coach compares with Scotrail’s West Highland line trains for value on the Glasgow-Fort William corridor, but I do know that the Citylink bus from Inverness to Kyle is a good £10 more expensive than an anytime single on the train, although it is half an hour quicker or so. Obviously it’s a very good useful standby if the train is unavailable, but I wouldn’t personally use it otherwise.

    Back to CS, they ought to be giving passengers booked to FW the option to cancel their journey and claim a full refund, as clearly being woken up at 5am and put onto a bus from Dundee is *not* acceptable, particularly if they have paid a premium first class fare expecting high quality service. Surely even if they do decide to travel, they ought to be given a decent amount of compensation for lack of sleep and a possibly uncomfortable bus journey. Just because they arrive for 09:57 doesn’t mean that CS shouldn’t compensate for their discomfort (regardless of the legal position, it’s something CS ought to do for customer service’s sake). I would certainly welcome the option of a refund and the chance to rebook on the Inverness section, where arrival is at a civilised time.
     
  17. RSTrains

    RSTrains New Member

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    Apologies if it has been asked or covered in another thread but is a Fixed Standard Sleeper single ticket valid in the lounge at Euston ?
     
  18. gcmozart

    gcmozart Member

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    from the website "The lounge is operated by Virgin Trains. Tickets accepted: Caledonian Double/Club."
     
  19. Roast Veg

    Roast Veg Member

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    Are smart cards even checked by SR guards? On EMT they never seem to have the tools to check their own and just trust the passenger to have loaded a valid ticket.
     
  20. RLBH

    RLBH Member

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    ScotRail do normally check them unless there are a lot of passengers to get through - it takes significantly longer to read a smartcard than to check a hard copy ticket.
     
  21. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Member

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    So that has delivered an efficiency then....
     
  22. haggishunter

    haggishunter Member

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    It has for customers. Can buy a ticket online, turn up at any station and board. No need to go to a station with a ticket machine, or a ticket office. I can renew my Highland Railcard without needing paper forms or a trip to a manned station.

    I admit it’s far from perfect and in urban areas there needs to be a step change to an Oyster like / contactless payg option.

    Back to the sleeper, can now buy Highland Railcard tickets for the day coach. The HR is not a ScotRail only product in that it’s for the routes, but it has become a ScotRail smartcard product! Thus there isn’t a physical Railcard, without validating the smartcard there is no way of knowing it’s a Highland Railcard.

    Not yet tried it on the sleeper, if I did would get paper tickets but not sure how the lack of physical Railcard would playout?
     
  23. mikey9

    mikey9 Member

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    To contradict your absolute statement - many tourist journeys just aren't time critical, some are. Interrailing around Europe with the family a few weeks ago (as tourists - not an enthusiast) - we enjoyed some trains with time critical connections (with booked Trenitalia Reservations) and others where it really didn't matter + or - an hour or few - when we arrived - There are NO ABSOLUTES - we really should avoid trying to apply narrow requirements to groups of travel types - it is just unrealistic and unrepresentative.
     
  24. mde

    mde Member

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    NRE suggests that the only participating operator is ScotRail, are you sure it is valid on the sleeper?

    You can get a physical card according to ScotRail, but, they don't give any indication as to what the format would be - e.g. is it a branded paper / plastic card in its own right? It might be best to branch this off into a thread of its own...
     
  25. haggishunter

    haggishunter Member

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    Well you can certainly buy tickets at the Highland Railcard price while specifically selecting the sleeper service now. If they aren't valid surely they shouldn't be sold for that service?

    Interestingly having a look just now there are also £10 advance fares Ft William to Glasgow on the sleeper. I assume they are tied to the number of seats that can't be sold for through travel South of Glasgow because of passengers occupying seats from Aberdeen?
     
  26. Caleb2010

    Caleb2010 Member

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    But the world doesn't end at Fort William, Inverness or Aberdeen. Many tourists have on going connections to other destinations, be it by car, bus, train or tour coach! To them and others joining whatever mode of transport it is - the journey is very time dependant.

    ScotRail can't hold a train in Inverness for a few minutes when the sleeper is late, other companies are the same. The X99 from Scrabster To Inverness will only wait so long for the ferry to appear. The Jacobite steam train from Fort William doesn't wait - they all work on a time dependant schedule and expect the passenger to be there for departure.

    Tour operators, car hire firms, onward rail transport - simply will not wait.

    So, conversely - many tourist journeys are time dependant, some aren't!
     
  27. InOban

    InOban Established Member

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    The WHL will reopen on Monday. The orange army have done their stuff. Whether CS will restart, no idea. I assume it's too late to change the rosters.
     
  28. haggishunter

    haggishunter Member

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    Got to say impressive stuff. Hope there’s no more issues over the weekend, not exactly a cracking summer forecast!!
     
  29. 47271

    47271 Established Member

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    It isn't published anywhere, but I think the only other CS ticket that should be accepted at the lounge is Classic Flexipass, which is effectively a First Class legacy product. This is automatically upgraded to Club on the Lowlander and currently has an unnecessarily confused status on the old stock on the Highlander. However, I don't think that this is the ticket held by @RSTrains so I don't think that my point is terribly helpful, sorry!
     
  30. InOban

    InOban Established Member

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    Updated CS service information is now on the sleeper.scot website, according to their Twitter.
     

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