BAGGAGE lockers, wifi and first-class toilets will be added to Scotland’s treasured overnight train service in an investment worth up to £100 million designed to bring the route up to modern standards.
An overhaul of the Caledonian Sleeper comes as the Scottish Government seeks a new operator for the service.
Public funds will see the sleeper train’s 40-year-old carriages, which stop at Waverley six nights a week connecting to and from London Euston, transformed.
Power sockets will be fitted throughout the train and keys will be given to passengers, allowing them to lock individual booths and secure luggage areas in economy sections.
En-suite toilets will be added to first-class berths, while showers would also be provided for sleeper passengers at key stations including Waverley.
Shortlisted bidders will be asked to come up with an improved booking and reservation system that would still allow passengers to buy tickets at railway offices.
They have also been asked to develop a “strong, distinctive brand” for the service promoting its Scottish origins.
Transport Minister Keith Brown said demand for the sleeper service had grown since devolution, meaning it was now time to make the investment.
He said: “The Scottish Government is reinforcing its commitment to the sleeper, and underlining this with investment in the rolling stock to transform the service, support for a 15-year contract, and key improvements like wifi throughout the train with booster equipment to maximise signal strength.
“This will be alongside investment in stations and track that will enhance the overall service.”
The existing service is run by First ScotRail and is one of only two sleeper trains in Britain.
Prices roughly vary from bargain basement £20 fares to tickets costing about £150.
The three shortlisted companies for the new franchise will need to submit their bids by the end of this year.
The successful firm will be announced in the summer next year.
European transport group Arriva, which looks after Deutsche Bahn’s services outside Germany, is vying with current operator FirstGroup for the 15-year contract.
Fellow UK firm Serco, which is in charge of London’s Docklands Light Railway, is the final bidder.