Passengers locked out and deprived of coffee in fresh Caledonian Sleeper woes

Long-suffering passengers on Caledonian Sleeper’s new fleet have encountered yet more problems – being locked out of their rooms and coffee not being available in the morning.

Sunday, 13th October 2019, 11:33 am
Updated Sunday, 13th October 2019, 12:32 pm
Long-suffering passengers on Caledonian Sleepers new fleet have encountered yet more problems. Picture: Shutterstock

The latest glitches follow a catalogue of faults and setbacks which have plagued the £150 million trains since they were introduced between Edinburgh, Glasgow and London in April.

Their launch on three routes to the Highlands on Thursday was accompanied by passengers complaining of toilet problems and lack of hot food.

Regular travellers said they had loved the previous service, but were surprised and annoyed to keep finding new things going wrong.

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Sara Dorman, who travels weekly between Edinburgh and London, said: “The sleeper used to be the most reliable – you pitched up and you arrived.”

However, she has suffered everything from late boarding to lack of water, booking mix-ups and air conditioning problems.

The Edinburgh University academic said: “It’s striking how often there are new things, like the room keycards not working.

“The train was late for boarding and we then had to wait for staff to let us into our rooms. It affected everyone in my carriage.

“For at least the last two months, the service has been short staffed, and you cannot have breakfast in the lounge.

“But what’s really bugging me is there’s no coffee in the morning. I was told the boilers in the carriage are defective. It has happened to me twice.

“I was astonished something so simple was not manageable on supposedly state of the art equipment.

“The tickets are not cheap and it would be nice to get the basics you pay for.

“It’s all very frustrating. If there were only isolated things it would not be a problem, but it’s one thing after another that has not been sorted.”

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But she added: “The staff are still lovely. It can be such a great service and I hope it can get working better.”

Rupert Soames, chief executive of Sleeper operator Serco, acknowledged the new trains’ difficult start by tweeting last week: “It’s been a long haul and thank you to our loyal customers and staff who have borne with us through numerous bumps along the way.”

Scotland on Sunday understands many of the problems relate to the trains’ sophisticated software and wrong “button pushing”.

Serco said there had previously been key card problems shortly after the fleet was launched.

Guest experience director Graham Kelly said: “We apologise to the small number of guests who experienced a problem with their room keys on Monday evening on the Edinburgh to London service.

“This was a result of human error in programming the keys for that evening.

“The new key system has been working well to date, well-received by guests and a significant service enhancement.”