Sleeping in style – branding the new Caledonian Sleeper (TransportDesigned)

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The Caledonian Sleeper itself has a proud past, in fact some would say it was the first sleeper train in the UK. On 1 October 1873 the Caledonian Railway introduced a sleeping carriage, built by the London and North Western Railway, on limited mail trains three days per week between Glasgow Buchanan Street and London Euston. Its uniqueness and convenience proved a hit with the travelling public and services grew throughout all eras of the railway, with services eventually operating from both London Euston via the West Coast Main Line, and London King’s Cross via the East Coast Main Line (although these were withdrawn in May 1988).

However, not much had changed with the coaches, services or standards since the latter days of BR, so in 2012, in a bid to save the service, the Scottish Government announced they would separate the Caledonian Sleeper service from the main ScotRail franchise and spin it off as its own entity, to encourage investment in rolling stock and passenger growth. In early 2015, Serco was announced as the winner of the new franchise and arrived with a promise to invest £100million in new trains, improved interiors and better standards. The new rolling stock, they said, would be ready to go in 2018.

And that’s where things really get interesting. Serco contracted CAF (a Spanish rolling stock supplier) to build 75 brand new coaches of five different types. These will be formed into a total of four 16-coach trains (with 11 coaches as spares) and replace the aged Mk3 sleepers and Mk2 seated coaches, with something bold, different, unique and unlike anyone has seen on a sleeper train in the UK since the glory days of the overnight trains!

So, with the arrival of a new operator, and promise of new rolling stock, the Caledonian Sleeper needed a new image – one that celebrated its roots but also gave a clear signifier of the service to come. And thankfully, Serco didn’t disappoint. With the goal of creating a world class rail hospitality experience firmly in their minds, Serco appointed Glasgow-based design agency Weber Shandwick to “reinvent a national icon”.

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Written by Long Branch Mike