- 13 Jan 2019
I agree that there must be an untapped domestic market- perhaps also for folk living in the West Highlands who need to travel to southern England for family visits etc who live nowhere near an airport but have a convenient sleeper connection at Fort William.Is it perhaps the case that there are different classes of traveller depending on the destination? Fort William and Inverness i would suspect are dominated by the tourist market whereas the other routes with Aberdeen and Glasgow in particular being used by a more business / family/ home town visit type of traveller. Weekend breaks and short trips both to Europe and within the UK appear to have become ever more popular over the last few years but i cannot ever recall any of my colleagues / friends in London saying that they had used the sleeper for a visit to Scotland, with the exception of a few working in the rail industry. i get the impression it is just not on the radar for most so there is perhaps a large domestic market that is untapped and CS could market accordingly as a practical way of travel rather than a UK version of the Orient Express. Others (mainly Scottish) who are aware of the service immediately dismiss it as being 'far too expensive'.
I can imagine that a lot of these folk are concerned not only at the cost but also at the fact that (in their eyes, because they’re not interested in the touristy gimmicks) it isn’t necessarily good value for money compared with the old service. It was quite common to hear Highland voices in the lounge car of both the Inverness and Fort William services in Scotrail days but it’s very rare that you hear one these days. These would probably have been mostly one-off travellers but their custom could be valuable in a year in which the well-heeled foreign tourist is unlikely to be present on the sleeper in large numbers. I suspect that a lot of these travellers were lost to the airlines from Inverness (or other means) after the sleeper became too expensive for them.