As part of its response to the Rail 2014 process, HITRANS commissioned a report into the current method of operation of the Caledonian Sleepers; a copy of the report can be found here . In his Autumn Statement to the Westminster Parliament last November, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that £50m would be made available for enhancement of the rolling stock on the sleepers, provided it was matched by a similar sum from the Scottish Parliament. Initially, this was forthcoming. However, subsequently, it seems that the Scottish money may have been transferred to the water industry thus putting in doubt that from Westminster. In our own response to the Rail 2014, we made a number of suggestions as to how the current £21m per annum operating costs could be reduced.
1. Highland sleepers to split and join at Carstairs
This would enable the class 90 which currently works the Highland sleeper to work the Edinburgh portion of the Lowland sleeper. (If 2 below were adopted, this would be the Glasgow portion if the locomotive was at the London end.) The Fort William portion's seating vehicles would run from and to Edinburgh via Cobbinshaw, attaching and detaching at Carstairs. In addition, it would be possible for the Fort William portion to run via Queen Street Low Level, thus eliminating the need for the Westerton connection. It would arrive earlier, possibly in time for a Mallaig connection. The Inverness portion would wait at Stirling for the necessary path to fit in with the requirement for an Invernet service into Inverness. The southbound Aberdeen portion would call at Falkirk Grahamston in lieu of the Inverness portion which would no longer run that way.
2. The trains to run in push-pull mode whilst electrically powered
This would eliminate the need for additional locomotives for ECS workings. Each set already has a seating vehicle in it and this could have a driving cab added. As there would now be no need to provide for a locomotive each end, both the seating and lounge vehicles could be mark 3s rather than mark 2s, thus replacing the capacity lost by the installation of a driving cab. (Seating and lounge vehicles are currently mark 2s as the platform lengths at London Euston mean that a train wholly composed of mark 3s would not fit - the latter are a little over ten feet longer.) This, and the previous item, would reduce the number of class 90s needed each night from seven to four.
3. Run without guards
Each train has a lounge attendant (known as a Sleeper Team Manager) and several sleeping car attendants (Sleeper Hosts). Hosts already inspect sleeping car passengers' tickets; the only passengers who need the guard for this are in the seating vehicles and one of the other on-board staff could do this. It would probably not be practicable for guards to be removed on southbound trains north of the Central Belt nor on the northbound West Highland train. Travelling Post Offices ran without guards: each was required to convey at least one member of staff who was suitably trained to carry out the duties of a guard in emergencies, which hardly ever arose.