New sleeper service?

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nuneatonmark

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Given the paucity of flying options to Cornwall and the vastly increased use of rail, does anyone think there could ever be enough demand for sleeper service from the Midlands and North to Plymouth and Cornwall? Maybe from Newcastle/Leeds/Sheffield/Birmingham? Summer only?
 
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CosherB

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Given the paucity of flying options to Cornwall and the vastly increased use of rail, does anyone think there could ever be enough demand for sleeper service from the Midlands and North to Plymouth and Cornwall? Maybe from Newcastle/Leeds/Sheffield/Birmingham? Summer only?
Simple answer - no.
 

Polarbear

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I'm not sure that there is no demand for such a service, but I expect what demand there is wouldn't be worth setting up a new bespoke service for these days.

Of course, in BR days, there used to be just such a service - the Plymouth - Glasgow/Edinburgh overnight. Of all the remaining sleeper services on the run up to privatisation, it was probably the least viable but I seem to recall that the main reason for it's demise was that it didn't fit well with the proposed franchise map.

In hindsight, it's a pity that a "Sleeper TOC" wasn't established at the beginning of privitisation to run all three of the services that BR had been operating until the early 1990's, as that may have saved the cross-country sleeper service> Financially, it would have been a basket case though, which I expect is the one reason that didn't happen.
 

Philip C

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Of course such services used to exist and, unlike many sleeper services to London from the north of England and stations in Wales, were not withdrawn due to the impact of faster daytime services. Did the demise of parcels and newspaper traffic undermine a common service proposition?

I don't know whether they could be revived and sense little interest in the idea by those who'd have to be interested.

If I were to offer a positive suggestion it would be for the marketing of the existing service from Paddington with a relatively cheap late evening add-on from places between, say, Newcastle and Norwich. A similar facility in the other direction would offer over-night travel from the West Country to Paddington and breakfast time onward travel out of King's Cross/Liverpool Street. This might fill empty berths on the current train (are there many?) and give some indication of likely demand.

I do, however, very much doubt that we will see the return of overnight inter-regional sleeper trains in the next twenty years; but the future is a big place......
 

paul1609

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I'm not sure that there is no demand for such a service, but I expect what demand there is wouldn't be worth setting up a new bespoke service for these days.

Of course, in BR days, there used to be just such a service - the Plymouth - Glasgow/Edinburgh overnight. Of all the remaining sleeper services on the run up to privatisation, it was probably the least viable but I seem to recall that the main reason for it's demise was that it didn't fit well with the proposed franchise map.

In hindsight, it's a pity that a "Sleeper TOC" wasn't established at the beginning of privitisation to run all three of the services that BR had been operating until the early 1990's, as that may have saved the cross-country sleeper service> Financially, it would have been a basket case though, which I expect is the one reason that didn't happen.
Probably near to 100% of the clientele of the Plymouth to Scotland sleeper service were Naval Ratings and MOD civil servants. These were removed at a stroke of a pen when Rosyth Naval Base closed. The sleeper service was withdrawn a few months later. I don't think it had anything to do with Privatisation. I went on it as a Naval Rating it was a great party train.
 

Bletchleyite

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There would probably be some demand, but probably not enough demand.

OTOH, an overnight Voyager might well pay its way. There used to be an overnight Mk2 LHCS service from Manchester to Paignton on a Friday evening.
 

nuneatonmark

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Similar to the overnight 'regular' train mentioned above I have always wondered whether the use of just traditional sleeping compartments and normal seating in sleeper services is restricting the market. Could airline 'business class' lie flat style seats be a possible solution? No one seems to have problems sleeping in them on overnight flights, why not on trains? They could be cheaper than traditional sleeping compartments as you must easily be able to get 30 in a single coach with a good degree of comfort and some privacy.
 

Bletchleyite

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Similar to the overnight 'regular' train mentioned above I have always wondered whether the use of just traditional sleeping compartments and normal seating in sleeper services is restricting the market. Could airline 'business class' lie flat style seats be a possible solution?
Yes. So much so that the new Caledonian Sleeper will have a "middle class" which will be precisely as you describe. It is quite an attractive option particularly to those travelling alone for whom sharing a compartment with one other can be awkward but a sole use compartment is too expensive.
 

me123

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I think there would be demand for such a service, but it would be highly seasonal. You would realistically be looking at weekends at the height of Summer. Otherwise, it'd not really be a viable option. The costs of procuring new stock and running the service would far outweigh the income that would be generated.

At best, you'd be looking at a train with some standard class and some couchette-type sleeper seats, but I doubt you'll have berths and a sleeper service as we know it today.
 

Bletchleyite

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At best, you'd be looking at a train with some standard class and some couchette-type sleeper seats, but I doubt you'll have berths and a sleeper service as we know it today.
An EMU (suburban type would be fine, it wouldn't need to go fast) could I suppose be fitted out in that way, making it less expensive to run than LHCS.
 

47271

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For this to have any hope, and I don't believe it for a moment, it would have to operate to the largest possible centres and over the longest possible distance, so basically a reinvention of the Edinburgh and Glasgow to Plymouth service. Anything west of Plymouth would die out of season and, as has already been pointed out, the old service was kept alive by RN flows between Rosyth and Devonport. I know, although never in the military myself, I did use the train a few times in its final years and that's exactly who was on it. The lounges did very well, let's put it that way.

It's a shame because the present day alternative is 10 hours or something trapped in a Voyager - no thank you, I'd sooner go on my hands and knees - so I'm afraid that I always fly to or from Scotland, or go via London, on the relatively rare occasions that work takes me to Bristol or south west of there.
 

soup6

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Where is the "paucity of flights" to Cornwall in summer? There are seasonal flights from Edinburgh, Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool, Doncaster/Sheffield and Birmingham to Newquay. Admittedly most of these aren't daily but they are scheduled for the periods of highest demand.
 

route:oxford

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Given the paucity of flying options to Cornwall and the vastly increased use of rail, does anyone think there could ever be enough demand for sleeper service from the Midlands and North to Plymouth and Cornwall? Maybe from Newcastle/Leeds/Sheffield/Birmingham? Summer only?
Newcastle - Exeter Return on Flybe starts at around £60 if booked well ahead.

Why spend the night shoogling around on the train when you can get a late evening flight and grab a hotel with proper showers?
 
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Back in the day, when you could get motorail/sleeper from St.Austell, Plymouth or Penzance to:

  • Worcester
  • Birmingham
  • Newton-le-Willows
  • Reading
  • Newcastle
  • London
  • Sheffield
  • Stirling
  • York

I was quite envious of my dad when he casually mentioned he used it kick-start a few Highland holidays from the Midlands.
 

Bald Rick

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No chance.

When the London - Scotland sleepers lose money, pots of it, with full length trains running the main leg of the journey... What chance has a cross country sleeper got, especially with no politicians to fill the berths?

New sleeper vehicles are £2m each by the way...
 
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Lee_Again

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Yes. So much so that the new Caledonian Sleeper will have a "middle class" which will be precisely as you describe. It is quite an attractive option particularly to those travelling alone for whom sharing a compartment with one other can be awkward but a sole use compartment is too expensive.
I've never understood why this hasn't been done before. Especially when you consider that they can also be used as daytime trains too. This is normally the argument against procuring new stock. The only one journey rule. I would love to sit on an airline style business class seat. Eat, sleep, work, rest. Perfect.
 

IanXC

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I think we are fast approaching the one opportunity this concept has - an OAO taking advantage of the withdrawal of the current Caledonian Sleeper stock. Small as that chance may be!

I think you would have to have a single train, no portions or shunting, something like Glasgow via Edinburgh south on the ECML calling at major stops until York, connecting with an overnight TPE, then probably Birmingham for your next call, followed by Bristol and onwards to Plymouth. That would then pick up some of the flows between cities as per TPE overnights, whilst also carrying longer journey, end to end passengers.

Hardly likely tho is it!
 

ChiefPlanner

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No - period.

Some ideas for Dover - Glasgow via the Settle route , combining with a Paignton section were earnestly" discussed in a planning meeting years back.

USP being 2x37's haulage.

Shall we say it was deemed "not credible"

By European standards - we are fortunate to retain what we have.
 

Bald Rick

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Let's say a benevolent ROSCO gifts you the coaches.

Costs for a one way trip:

Track access, about £2k
Loco hire, about £2k
Staffing - minimum of 3 drivers, 3 guards, 4 attendants, total £2k
Train prep, cleaning, maintenance etc £1k
Fuel £1k
Overhead costs (management, marketing, accommodation, ticket commission etc), say £2k

That's £10k per night per one way journey, and it's being very optimistic.

Even if you could sell 100 tickets a night, that's £100 per ticket, one way. In a 30 year old sleeper coach.

But a ROSCO won't give you the coaches, and you won't sell 100 tickets a night.
 
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johntea

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Good news that I read recently is that there is a (direct) Leeds Bradford to Newquay flight being introduced this year that'll take about 1hr 20min.

As much as I enjoyed my trip there I didn't particulary enjoy 10 hours on a coach each way! (Arguably about half of that was going round West Yorkshire picking punters up and service station stops!)
 

Tim R-T-C

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The only sleepers being retained in France are ones with political necessity - ie. subsidised ones. Same reason why the Sicily to Rome sleeper still exists in Italy too (a nice ride, worth the trip).

Unfortunately people seem happy to put up with the hassle of a 6am start and airport security, but not to spend a night on a train.

Simple fact is, if there was money in it, a company would have surely already made an offer for the Caledonian stock when it becomes available and requested slots to run sleeper trains. I'm sure no-one would have complained about abstraction if they avoided the current sleeper routes.
 

Harbornite

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I think we are fast approaching the one opportunity this concept has - an OAO taking advantage of the withdrawal of the current Caledonian Sleeper stock. Small as that chance may be!

I think you would have to have a single train, no portions or shunting, something like Glasgow via Edinburgh south on the ECML calling at major stops until York, connecting with an overnight TPE, then probably Birmingham for your next call, followed by Bristol and onwards to Plymouth. That would then pick up some of the flows between cities as per TPE overnights, whilst also carrying longer journey, end to end passengers.

Hardly likely tho is it!

It would be nice if someone could trial such an operation, but your last sentence sums it up, unfortunately.
 
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