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The Sleeper Saga Continues


In my last post I was talking about the problems that the Caledonian Sleeper service has been having with their new carriages but said that the Highlander service, which takes passengers from Fort William, Inverness, and Aberdeen to London, had remained on the old carriages for now.

Well, on Friday night the section of the Highlander service which started at Fort William and was due to hook up with the other two sections at Edinburgh Waverley for the journey to Euston broke down between Corrour and Tulloch. Full report here on the BBC web site.

I've since heard rather more about this story. What happened was that the diesel locomotive hauling the Fort William train broke down on this particularly isolated track .

So they sent an "Thunderbird" locomotive to haul the train to Glasgow. However there were problems with this plan:

  1. The locomotive didn't have enough fuel on so there was a delay while it got some more fuel on board.
  2. The driver only had knowledge of the section from Polmadie to Helensburgh so they had to get the driver of the sleeper to Helensburgh which required a Network Rail Mobile Ops Manager to bring a road-rail vehicle to collect them as the nearest access point to the failed train was some three miles away over moor land.
  3. The Thunderbird was only running on three traction motors (rather than six I think), so was significantly underpowered. As a result it failed to negotiate the incline after Arrochar at the first attempt. Luckily the original locomotive decided to start working again at this point so they got up on the second attempt.

Other issues included no food service, this being another one without working lounge car (see my last post), so there was no food to buy. They did hand out water but it was roasting hot, as were the carriages.

All very unfortunate for the passengers but this can happen and they would be entitled to a full refund on their ticket - small compensation for the very disturbed night's sleep I suspect not to mention the missed connections.

It doesn't end there however. As a result of this coaches were now out of position so Caledonian Sleeper announced that last Sunday night's trains to and from Fort William would be badly disrupted:

Fort William to London Euston

Due to trains being out of position following disruption on Saturday morning, this service will start at Edinburgh Waverley.

Road transport will be provided to transfer guests from Fort William.

Guests booked to board at intermediate stations are advised to make their own way to Fort William (in time for road transport departure at 19:00) or Edinburgh Waverley (to connect with your service at 00:24) – Ticket acceptance is in place with Scotrail to aid guests with connections.

London Euston to Fort William

Due to trains being out of position following disruption on Saturday morning, this service will start at Edinburgh Waverley.

To ensure we minimise delay to your arrival, road transport will be provided to transfer guests from London Euston to Dumbarton Central.

Please report to Caledonian Sleeper staff on the platform at boarding time, where you will then be directed to the transport.

Which sounded dreadful: a coach from London to just past Glasgow is not a suitable substitute service. Later it seems that they gave up and simply cancelled the service completely.

Tags: Scotland, trains Written 03/07/19

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