WHEN I’m asked about the greatest train journeys in the world I always recommend the Caledonian Sleeper, the train that runs from London’s Euston to the West Highlands of Scotland. Like all the best journeys, this is totally transformative, taking you from the hustle and bustle of the Euston Road to the beauty and tranquility of rural Scotland in a single leap.
Now the journey has got even better with a £150m revamp, the biggest for 40 years, with 75 brand new coaches built in Spain. Passengers can lie in double beds for the first time on a British train, use en suite showers and dine on fresh haggis with a dram or two of the finest malt before nodding off to sleep. The operators, Serco, call it a “hotel on wheels” – and who is to doubt them? Certainly it is the most modern sleeping car train in the world.
The inaugural service of the new rolling stock on April 28 got off to a shaky start, with the first train from Glasgow arriving in London more than three hours late due to signalling problems. but there was praise for the the train and the staff.
Mark Smith, the founder of the Seat61.com website, who was travelling on the first northbound train, reported that the experience was excellent: “The new Caledonian Sleeper trains are fabulous. They’ve a hotel feel, great beds, good food and now en suites too. Bit more pressure in the shower would be ideal, and I missed the coat hangers. But details aside, these new trains are superb.”
So far the new stock is being used on the “Lowland” trains to Edinburgh and Glasgow, but from June, you will be able to travel in style on the Highland train to Inverness, Aberdeen and Fort William – known as the Deerstalker Express. I’ve got my ticket booked already!
(The cheapest seats cost £45, twin rooms with bunk beds and a shower cost £250 for a couple, and a double en-suite room for two starts at £400.)