Caledonian Sleeper

185143

Established Member
Joined
3 Mar 2013
Messages
3,645
Not to specifically excuse CS, but it is in fact the case that we are just coming out (hopefully) of a global pandemic that's massively disrupted almost every industry in the world and had significant personal consequences for a large number of people in the UK. So...yeah, Covid can often be an easy excuse for things but it's also an entirely real problem for any operation relying on staff being physically present.

In 'normal' times I'd agree that being chucked out at 4am would be totally unacceptable and indicative of terrible management but it's not normal times. There are also people who've had travels disrupted by having to spend a week or two in solitary confinement in a hotel at their own expense. I know people who literally can't travel to their home country at all. Maybe a little perspective is required?
On the whole, people who have had to quarantine in hotels have been aware of the arrangement before booking to travel and have still done so.

The Covid problem is exacerbated by the poor Industrial Relations, so yes it is still indicative of terrible management to kick you out of a luxury hotel with minimal notice, despite having the alteration planned for a few days *and then not compensate your guests accordingly*. I'd listen to an argument that people in the seats don't need compensating, but people who've paid a three figure sum and then get turfed out onto a bus absolutely do. If a hotel kicked me out after 7 hours I'd rightfully be expecting compensation from Travelodge, never mind a high end establishment.
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

InOban

Established Member
Joined
12 Mar 2017
Messages
3,292
Is this problem another consequence of the separation of CS from scotrail? Pre the separation were the sleeper guards drawn from the same pool as operated daytime trains? So now there are only a few available to operate the services N of Edinburgh?

Is this problem another consequence of the separation of CS from scotrail? Pre the separation were the sleeper guards drawn from the same pool as operated daytime trains? So now there are only a few available to operate the services N of Edinburgh?
 
Joined
2 Jan 2009
Messages
488
So let me get this straight. They are going to wake people out of their beds in the middle of the night, make them walk themselves and their luggage out the station and onto a coach where they then get to sit for hours. And because they plan to get the coaches to deliver passengers on time they claim to be fulfilling the ticket so no compensation?

Last I checked they were called Caledonian Sleeper, not Caledonian Woken Up and Shoved on a Coach. If their management think this is (a) viable and (b) acceptable then its like they are begging to have their contract cancelled. Pleading. Please take this off us so we no longer have to suffer.
 

gallafent

Member
Joined
23 Dec 2010
Messages
484
How much compensation did you get for that if you don't mind me asking?
You know, I simply can't remember! It must have been somewhere between around 2001-2005 I think, … too long ago to recall how I dealt with it …
 

Statto

Established Member
Joined
8 Feb 2011
Messages
2,649
Location
At home or at the pub
On the whole, people who have had to quarantine in hotels have been aware of the arrangement before booking to travel and have still done so.

The Covid problem is exacerbated by the poor Industrial Relations, so yes it is still indicative of terrible management to kick you out of a luxury hotel with minimal notice, despite having the alteration planned for a few days *and then not compensate your guests accordingly*. I'd listen to an argument that people in the seats don't need compensating, but people who've paid a three figure sum and then get turfed out onto a bus absolutely do. If a hotel kicked me out after 7 hours I'd rightfully be expecting compensation from Travelodge, never mind a high end establishment.

Agreed, if a hotel told be when i booked in there's no food available, & i wouldn't be able to leave the premises, & then told i'd have to check out at 4am, & paid a 3 figure sum for the privilege i'd be livid & demanding compensation, the was CS is being run is a shambles
 

185143

Established Member
Joined
3 Mar 2013
Messages
3,645
Agreed, if a hotel told be when i booked in there's no food available, & i wouldn't be able to leave the premises, & then told i'd have to check out at 4am, i'd be livid & demanding compensation, the was CS is being run is a shambles
I suppose the equivalent to my recent sleeper experience (left on the ramp at Euston until 21:55 and only told after departure no catering onboard) would be to be left queueing up at the bar for nearly 2 hours after opening time and then be told it won't open and you can't leave the premises. At least I got to Inverness by (sleeper) train!
 

Highlandspring

Established Member
Joined
14 Oct 2017
Messages
2,779
Is this problem another consequence of the separation of CS from scotrail? Pre the separation were the sleeper guards drawn from the same pool as operated daytime trains? So now there are only a few available to operate the services N of Edinburgh?
South of Edinburgh and Glasgow the guards were in a seperate dedicated sleeper ‘Train Manager’ link but the Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William portions were in the hands of Aberdeen, Perth and Queen Street/Fort William guards respectively as it was just another line on the roster. However a few would swap shifts to work the sleeper as much as they could.
 

_toommm_

Established Member
Joined
8 Jul 2017
Messages
4,528
Location
Yorkshire
Late boarding of the Lowlander this evening due to ‘operational issues’. I’m sure that the magical experience shouldn’t start with waiting around for an indeterminate amount of time…
 

185143

Established Member
Joined
3 Mar 2013
Messages
3,645
Apparently the Northbound Lowlander will be boarding late due to "Operational Issues".
 

Meerkat

Established Member
Joined
14 Jul 2018
Messages
5,116
Late boarding of the Lowlander this evening due to ‘operational issues’. I’m sure that the magical experience shouldn’t start with waiting around for an indeterminate amount of time…
Isn’t a major part of magic the unexpected happening?
 

Blindtraveler

Established Member
Joined
28 Feb 2011
Messages
8,045
Location
Nowhere near enough to a Pacer :(
Highlander was also late boarding due to these same operational issues. Anyone got any idea what these are? is it it lethargic staff who are fed up with this **** show simply not wanting to let people on till the last minute so that the suffering is shared or is it something more serious like a crowd of fitters and mechanics frantically trying to make the rolling stock work properly to avoid complaints whilst The apprentice stumps around behind them with an enormous drum of gaffer tape fixing all the bits that the fallen off back on again on another temporary repair? Or is it something else entirely that might just be plausible and believable and generate sympathy or anger or whatever kind of response
 

JonathanH

Established Member
Joined
29 May 2011
Messages
8,542
Is this problem another consequence of the separation of CS from scotrail? Pre the separation were the sleeper guards drawn from the same pool as operated daytime trains? So now there are only a few available to operate the services N of Edinburgh?
It wouldn't be running on Sunday evenings at the moment if Scotrail guards were still being used on the Highland portions.
 

najaB

Veteran Member
Joined
28 Aug 2011
Messages
24,759
Location
Scotland
You need one guard for the combined train, you need three for the portions...
What I imagined would happen is that the guard who worked the train up from Euston would work the extra half hour or so needed to shunt the train into Haymarket. Would they still need a guard if the train was safely parked in a platform?
 

185143

Established Member
Joined
3 Mar 2013
Messages
3,645
What I imagined would happen is that the guard who worked the train up from Euston would work the extra half hour or so needed to shunt the train into Haymarket. Would they still need a guard if the train was safely parked in a platform?
Not sure if you'd need the guard to stay on, although I suspect it'd need someone Safety Critical onboard along with a loco to provide ETH.

Also, the overtime ban would almost certainly rule out the chances of this happening.
 

BRX

Established Member
Joined
20 Oct 2008
Messages
2,762
On the whole, people who have had to quarantine in hotels have been aware of the arrangement before booking to travel and have still done so.

The Covid problem is exacerbated by the poor Industrial Relations, so yes it is still indicative of terrible management to kick you out of a luxury hotel with minimal notice, despite having the alteration planned for a few days *and then not compensate your guests accordingly*. I'd listen to an argument that people in the seats don't need compensating, but people who've paid a three figure sum and then get turfed out onto a bus absolutely do. If a hotel kicked me out after 7 hours I'd rightfully be expecting compensation from Travelodge, never mind a high end establishment.
Yes, I agree people should be compensated. My comments were more related to the various suggestions that the sleeper operation is in a death spiral. Maybe it is (I hope not) but I think it's worth remembering that we are in somewhat exceptional times right now. There's clearly significant disruption to the sleeper and perhaps it could be better managed and perhaps it's exacerbated by poor industrial relations - but there are a lot of things that are disrupted at the moment so I don't think it's really fair to say that Covid related staffing issues are just being used as a convenient excuse.
 

Horizon22

Established Member
Associate Staff
Jobs & Careers
Joined
8 Sep 2019
Messages
2,697
Location
London
If what you want to do is have the experience of using a sleeper train, I'd certainly go for the Riviera at the moment, more reliable (and a much simpler operation) and loads cheaper, and I think the lounge is back open too (but might be wrong).

Certainly is reopen, although a slightly reduced offering.
 

185143

Established Member
Joined
3 Mar 2013
Messages
3,645
Yes, I agree people should be compensated. My comments were more related to the various suggestions that the sleeper operation is in a death spiral. Maybe it is (I hope not) but I think it's worth remembering that we are in somewhat exceptional times right now. There's clearly significant disruption to the sleeper and perhaps it could be better managed and perhaps it's exacerbated by poor industrial relations - but there are a lot of things that are disrupted at the moment so I don't think it's really fair to say that Covid related staffing issues are just being used as a convenient excuse.
It could definitely be better managed. I've had two experiences of a cancellation, way before Covid and the first one way before the dispute. Indeed, my first cancellation was on my first sleeper journey. The staff, both on the ground and on the phone from the Guest Service Centre, couldn't have done much more to look after us, seemed to really care and couldn't have given a much better first impression really. A steward even came through the ScotRail HST we ended up on to check if we had onward connections from Inverness and opened up the lounge on arrival for us, with staff there doing delay Repay forms with us in person. I just couldn't imagine that much care and attention these days.

The other cancellation I was informed of a few days in advance as mentioned above and offered the option of a bus transfer and a 50% refund despite an earlier arrival or a full refund if I abandoned the journey. Again, this doesn't happen now, it seems to be "take it or leave it" where buses are involved.

Take my first experience where I was phoned and informed of the cancellation, and then subsequently looked after so well when I finally did get moving, along with everyone else despite only having paid £35 for a seat and my most recent experience. Paid £280 for a room (shared admittedly) to be left stood waiting to board for an hour and a half with no information at all. Even the Euston security staff didn't know, said the sleeper staff who were seemingly just stood chatting by the gate line wouldn't tell them anything either, and then when we finally do board and get underway we're told there's no catering.

The management of it has deteriorated drastically even within the Serco era. There's absolutely no reason for letting passengers board a train with no catering, it's even been added to the auto announcements at Sheffield for example and is displayed on the PIS for TPE services at Edinburgh.

If it were once in a blue moon, or a "Ryanair" type service then they may deserve a bit of slack. But it's nearly every night at the moment and it's not nearly good enough when nearly everyone onboard, regardless of the amount of subsidy it gets as most people won't know or care about that, has paid upwards of £100 for their "experience".

For the record, I love sleeper travel. I really, really want the service to be successful and would (in normal times) encourage anyone to bite the bullet, put their hand in their pocket and use it. But I would, and sadly have, discourage anyone from using it at the moment. It's just so disappointing to see what should be an excellent, premium service consistently fall so short of what it should be.
 
Last edited:

Bletchleyite

Veteran Member
Joined
20 Oct 2014
Messages
68,705
Location
"Marston Vale mafia"
Yes, I agree people should be compensated. My comments were more related to the various suggestions that the sleeper operation is in a death spiral. Maybe it is (I hope not) but I think it's worth remembering that we are in somewhat exceptional times right now. There's clearly significant disruption to the sleeper and perhaps it could be better managed and perhaps it's exacerbated by poor industrial relations - but there are a lot of things that are disrupted at the moment so I don't think it's really fair to say that Covid related staffing issues are just being used as a convenient excuse.

No, but they are being handled very badly, it seems.
 

STINT47

Member
Joined
16 Aug 2020
Messages
201
Location
Nottingham
So let me get this straight. They are going to wake people out of their beds in the middle of the night, make them walk themselves and their luggage out the station and onto a coach where they then get to sit for hours. And because they plan to get the coaches to deliver passengers on time they claim to be fulfilling the ticket so no compensation?

Last I checked they were called Caledonian Sleeper, not Caledonian Woken Up and Shoved on a Coach. If their management think this is (a) viable and (b) acceptable then its like they are begging to have their contract cancelled. Pleading. Please take this off us so we no longer have to suffer.
They are allowing people who do not want to use the coach to cancel and get a full redund. If you decide to travel then they consider that you have accepted the new arrangments and are happy to procede on these new terms. An email to customer services may get you a voucher or something.
 

185143

Established Member
Joined
3 Mar 2013
Messages
3,645
They are allowing people who do not want to use the coach to cancel and get a full redund. If you decide to travel then they consider that you have accepted the new arrangments and are happy to procede on these new terms. An email to customer services may get you a voucher or something.
There have been several cases recently where alterations have gone into RTT several days in advance, yet "guests" are only being told on the afternoon of travel.

I suspect some people certainly would reconsider if they were told a few days earlier. I certainly did a couple of years ago, and that was with an offer of a 50% refund if I took the bus.
 

Bletchleyite

Veteran Member
Joined
20 Oct 2014
Messages
68,705
Location
"Marston Vale mafia"
They are allowing people who do not want to use the coach to cancel and get a full redund. If you decide to travel then they consider that you have accepted the new arrangments and are happy to procede on these new terms. An email to customer services may get you a voucher or something.

So, on the day you intended to check in at the Premier Inn (not, indeed, a premium hotel as the CS sells itself) they email you to say that at 4am you have to get up and be bussed to the local Travelodge on those same terms. Is that acceptable?

No, thought not.

They should be offering a partial refund for the loss of utility without needing to ask for it. Or, as I said above, they need to consider reducing their service in line with what they can reliably operate, e.g. cancelling the Aberdeen entirely. Or warning about the possibility of this well in advance so those who would wish to change plans have time to grab a decently priced Advance on a day train and a hotel, which is what I would want to do. Being told on the day of an issue they know might happen is unacceptable.
 

Falcon1200

Member
Joined
14 Jun 2021
Messages
454
Location
Neilston, East Renfrewshire
Or, as I said above, they need to consider reducing their service in line with what they can reliably operate, e.g. cancelling the Aberdeen entirely. Or warning about the possibility of this well in advance so those who would wish to change plans have time to grab a decently priced Advance on a day train and a hotel, which is what I would want to do. Being told on the day of an issue they know might happen is unacceptable.

I would agree that given the unreliability, and the huge inconvenience caused to passengers being de-bedded at unearthly hours, the Aberdeen portion should be cancelled until things settle down. It's a pity the Edinburgh train cannot be strengthened to compensate. However, the Sleepers do sometimes work as booked, I witnessed the Glasgow train arriving at Central bang on time this morning !
 

Killingworth

Established Member
Joined
30 May 2018
Messages
3,071
Location
Sheffield
I hope the Scottish Sleeper management are Times readers. If they are they'll realise their columnist Max Hastings is catching the train this Thursday. See his Notebook today.

On a previous trip the engine caught fire 10 miles short of Inverness, so they opened the door, hopped down onto the track and hitched a lift from a nearby farmer! The following year his 10 year old son wanted to know if the train would catch fire again.

Which just goes to show how loyal Sleeper users are to the service, and how challenging it is operationally.
 

Bletchleyite

Veteran Member
Joined
20 Oct 2014
Messages
68,705
Location
"Marston Vale mafia"
Which just goes to show how loyal Sleeper users are to the service, and how challenging it is operationally.

It is indeed challenging operationally, but operational challenges aren't a justification for poor customer care.

I've often said that I judge a company not on whether something went wrong or not (within reason), but how they deal with things when they do go wrong, because they inevitably will at some point.

CS appear to be grossly failing this test at present.
 

Killingworth

Established Member
Joined
30 May 2018
Messages
3,071
Location
Sheffield
It is indeed challenging operationally, but operational challenges aren't a justification for poor customer care.

I've often said that I judge a company not on whether something went wrong or not (within reason), but how they deal with things when they do go wrong, because they inevitably will at some point.

CS appear to be grossly failing this test at present.
Hopefully they'll at least manage to rise to the northbound challenge this Thursday night!
 

Top