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The new luxury Caledonian Sleeper coaches were in Fort William this week, but it has emerged they will not actually be used on the overnight service between the town and London until after the summer.
The carriages, part of operator Serco’s new £150 million fleet, were at the town’s railway station to allow for, it is believed, staff training.
But in a statement on the Caledonian Sleeper website, the company said the introduction of the new trains in the Highlands would be delayed due to to issues relating to availability.
‘We will instead be running our current trains and can therefore still ensure you get to your destination and experience our excellent levels of service and hospitality on board,’ said the firm.
‘Our decision to put back the introduction by a few weeks has been taken to allow CAF, the manufacturer, to complete the further work required on the carriages to ensure they are fit for purpose to be accepted into service.
‘This is intended to ensure that when they do enter service our guests have the best possible experience. We will be confirming a new date for introducing our new trains on our Highland routes as soon as possible.’
It is believed the new carriages will be used to support the Lowland service over the summer, although Transport Scotland is reported as calling the delay ‘unacceptable’ and that penalties would be applied.
But the current service in the Highlands has also been beset with problems, with overnight services between Fort William and London cancelled on Friday and at the weekend.
A ‘rescue train’ had to be dispatched to help passengers from a Caledonian Sleeper service which broke down on Friday between Corrour and Tulloch due to power failures, shortly after it left Fort William bound for London’s Euston Station.
Friday’s disruption was also blamed for the cancellation of Sunday’s sleeper services to and from Fort William.
Caledonian Sleeper ‘sincerely apologised’ and informed passengers that Sunday night’s services would start from Edinburgh.