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An Overnight Sleeper Service From Birmingham to Scotland
Value  

The sleeper service from London to Scotland is highly valued by its users, the business community and Scotland’s tourist industry, so much so that the UK Government has committed £50 million to its continuation and improvement, and this has been matched by a further £50 million from the Scottish Government.
The service today  

Two trains operate each way six nights a week [Sunday night to Friday night]. The Lowland Sleeper splits at Carstairs, the front half for Glasgow, the rear for Edinburgh.  The Highland Sleeper runs to Edinburgh, where it splits with one portion to Aberdeen, one to Inverness and one to Fort William.
The proposal

The Highland Sleeper should divert from its usual Trent Valley route to call at Birmingham New Street in each direction.  If it keeps its current northbound departure time from London Euston [21.15], a pick up at Birmingham New Street would be at about the commercially attractive time of 23.00. It may be necessary to bring this time forward by a few minutes but currently calls at Crewe and Preston are lengthy [9 minutes and 10 minutes] and it may be possible to reduce these. Southbound, the set down would be at about 06.10.  These times give attractive connections from a wide area, such as Bristol [20.30/08.08], Leicester [21.49/07.17] and Oxford [21.36/07.41].

Serving Lowland Scotland  It is not suggested that the Lowland Sleeper should call at Birmingham New Street as its timings are designed to appeal to the London market [Euston 23.50/06.47]. However, the Fort William portion of the Highland Sleeper calls at two of Glasgow’s suburban stations, Westerton and Dalmuir, which could marketed from the West Midlands.  Both of these stations have through trains to/from Edinburgh, so the Edinburgh market could also be addressed with doubling back permitted and still afford a good night’s sleep.

Influencing the decision  At present, the sleepers are part of the ScotRail franchise, but the Scottish Government is now looking at what should follow it from April 2015.  Its proposal is to hive off the sleepers to a microfranchise for 15 years.  In return for capital investment, the Scottish Government is looking for an increase in passenger numbers, so our suggestion is very relevant.  

Keith Flinders
January 2013
Campaign Update - January 2015

Serco takes over the Sleepers on 1 April and will inherit the established timings and calling points.  No immediate change is expected.  In answer to the question about stopping the Highland Sleeper in Birmingham, the response was that ‘this presents difficulties, but may be reviewed in the future’.

Two possible ‘difficulties’ are platform lengths at Birmingham New Street, where Platforms 1 and 4 can nominally cope with 15 sleeper coaches at 23 metres length [the Sleeper is 16 coaches long, plus locomotive] and the extra time needed to travel via Birmingham compared to taking the Trent Valley route.
The Sleepers already serve some stations where platforms are shorter than the train, such as Watford Junction, so it is possible.  At New Street though, junctions at each end of the station would be fouled, but only for a few minutes and at times when the station is quiet.

It is believed that Birmingham International has been considered for a Highland Sleeper call.  If that is accepted, the extra journey time by taking the Stechford to Aston line and continuing through Bescot is only 10 minutes more than the Trent Valley.
Latest News

27 August 2020

To find out first-hand how safe rail travel is post-Covid, four members of the CfR committee made a couple of rail journeys.  Their full report can be read in the News and Comment section.

21 August 2020

Train services operated by all TOCs in the West Midlands area will be improved from 7 September 2020.  Full details will be available on each individual TOC website.

11 August 2020

The first of the new Class 730 EMUs which will replace the Class 323 EMUs on the Cross City line has been sent to Velim in Czechia for testing.  In addition, the new Class 196 DMUs have started regular test runs along the North Warwickshire line between Tyseley and Stratford-upon-Avon.

24 July 2020

The £56 million University Station redevelopment has now been confirmed after West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) bosses agreed the full business case.
This approval for the development means that work can start later this year on building a new fit-for-purpose station with modern facilities and capable of handling 7.2 million passengers a year.

23 July 2020

The first of the new West Midlands Railways Class 196 units made its initial test run today from Tyseley Depot to Hereford via Kidderminster.

1 July 2020

The Department for Transport has announced the 50 schemes that have been submitted in the second round of bids under the Restore Your Railways scheme.
Full details may be read in the News and Comment section.

7 June 2020

The new station building at Kidderminster has been opened.
Full details may be read in the News and Comment section.

25 May 2020

The first half of the new station building at Wolverhampton has been completed and opened to the public.  The previous building will now be demolished and replaced in the second phase of work.

23 May 2020

The 10 successful projects from the bids submitted in the first round under the Restore Your Railways scheme have been announced by the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps.
Full details may be read in the News and Comment section.

21 March 2020

The Campaign for Rail AGM which was due to take place in May, has been postponed until a future date, as yet to be determined.
Campaign for Rail
Membership Secretary
116 Stoke Road
Bromsgrove
B60 3ED
contact-us@campaignforrail.org.uk

Site Last Updated on 9 September 2020
(Newsletter)
Campaign for Rail
Membership Secretary
116 Stoke Road
Bromsgrove
B60 3ED
contact-us@campaignforrail.org.uk

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