HITRANS chairman James Stockan has been in discussion with Serco Caledonian Sleeper managing director Peter Strachan about the possibility of establishing a Caithness to Edinburgh sleeper service.
He cites the combined population of Caithness and Orkney of 50,000 people and the 250,000 passengers who cross the Pentland Firth annually, along with the possibility of some freight carriage, as having the potential to create a business case for the idea. The seven-hour service would enable Caithness residents to conduct a day's business in the central belt or vice-versa. FoFNL convener Mike Lunan said the introduction of a sleeper service would be welcome news.
"We are aware Caledonian Sleeper are keen on opening up different routes," he said. "There are people who want to travel from Caithness to Edinburgh and London and a proposed service would prove very popular."
"If you're travelling in a train overnight, you don't mind how slowly it is going. This is a positive service which people would want to bring in. It might not be full every night, but it is something which I think a lot of people would want to use."
FoFNL's Richard Ardern pointed out that the Transport Scotland rail freight strategy mentions a quick study that is to be done of the prospects for carrying parcels again by passenger train. "An eventual sleeper train could have scope in guards van space or, even better, the possibility of attaching a parcels vehicle(s) on the rear."