The first guests will be welcomed on board the inaugural service of the new Caledonian Sleeper train franchise which is set to depart from Fort William this evening (31 March).
The new service will see the cross-border overnight service transformed into a world-class rail hospitality experience. Guests will enjoy a range of improvements on board, including a transformed menu showcasing the best of Scotland's food and drink, comfortable soft furnishings and new Arran Aromatics sleep packs to aid relaxation and a good night's sleep.
Marking the new franchise, Peter Strachan, Serco's Managing Director for the Caledonian Sleeper, will unveil the distinctive new livery with its midnight teal base colour and distinctive white stag antler motif.
Guests boarding at Fort William station will be greeted by traditional Highland bagpipe music from Spud the Piper and Hosts wearing the striking new uniforms designed by Glasgow fashion label ten30. Further services will depart as scheduled from around the UK following the Fort William departure.
Transport Minister Derek Mackay said: "The new Caledonian Sleeper service promises to be so much more than a commuter rail trip. The exciting plans will see the journey become a tourism draw in itself, and to realise the Scottish Government's ambition for the service to be emblematic of the best of Scotland.
"It won't just be passengers who benefit. Small and medium-sized Scottish businesses up and down the country are involved in supplying the new service and staff will have the opportunity to receive qualification-level training.
"From today, passengers can immediately start to enjoy the new catering offering and hospitality-style service, and this kicks off the countdown to the £150 million fleet of new Sleeper trains due to arrive in 2018."Read more
Commenting on the inaugural scheduled journey to from Fort William to London Euston, Peter Strachan added: "This marks another exciting next stage in the transformation of the service and I plan to personally experience the inaugural journey alongside our first guests tomorrow night.
"We are looking forward to transforming the service into a world class hospitality experience and we will further enhance it ahead of the launch of the new fleet in 2018."
Plans to transform the Caledonian Sleeper service into an outstanding hospitality offering that is emblematic of the best of Scotland are well underway. This includes all aspects of the operation of the Caledonian Sleeper franchise; marketing, sales, hospitality service on the trains, vehicle maintenance and the provision of facilities at stations for guests.
The new booking and reservation system, sleeper.scot allows passengers to plan and book their travel up to 12 months in advance, a first for any UK rail operator.
In 2018 a new fleet will launch, with a range of new features, including ensuite berths, Pod flatbeds and a brasserie-style Club Car. Over £150m is being invested in the new fleet which is part funded by a £60m capital grant from Scottish Ministers and will be built by leading rolling stock manufacturer Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF).
They will offer four innovative ways to travel in comfort on the Sleeper service - Cradle Seats, Pod Flatbeds, Berths and En-Suite Berths, and will include a Brasserie style Club Car for dining.