Caledonian Sleeper

BRX

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29th April. Though all rooms on London to Fort William are fully booked on both Thursday 29th and Friday 30th April, with just seats left on both; the first northbound availability to Fort William (in a room) is on Sunday 2nd May.

Unsurprisingly there is complete availability from Thursday 29th April on services to Glasgow and Aberdeen.

Are seats going to be available again, then?
 
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MrEd

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Thanks - good news!
What about the lounge car?
I too hope we see it back (in some form) as soon as possible. I think 29 April might be slightly optimistic for the lounge though as indoor hospitality is not allowed in England at all until May 17th, and severely restricted (with no alcohol) in Scotland too until that date. There’s also the continued issue of social distancing.

I wonder if the lounge car might have to wait until (maybe) June when restrictions can (hopefully) be eased much further?
 

Butts

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I too hope we see it back (in some form) as soon as possible. I think 29 April might be slightly optimistic for the lounge though as indoor hospitality is not allowed in England at all until May 17th, and severely restricted (with no alcohol) in Scotland too until that date. There’s also the continued issue of social distancing.

I wonder if the lounge car might have to wait until (maybe) June when restrictions can (hopefully) be eased much further?

At the risk of repeating myself if you can serve food and drink in the air why can't they open the Lounge Car ?

You are much closer to your neighbour in an aircraft surely they could operate a booking rotation service over the course of such a long journey.
 

MrEd

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At the risk of repeating myself if you can serve food and drink in the air why can't they open the Lounge Car ?

You are much closer to your neighbour in an aircraft surely they could operate a booking rotation service over the course of such a long journey.
I’m not sure about that one. I think, though, that the railway might have different regulations (and I notice from the CS website that seated passengers are not allowed to take alcohol into the seated coach- so the lounge car might have to be dry too). A lot of it might be because it’s impossible for staff to socially distance in the lounge car/kitchen area. I also wonder whether the capacity of the already small lounge car would become so small that it wouldn’t be worth running.

There‘s also the issue of whether passengers would still need to wear masks when not eating/drinking, or whether screens and other modifications would be needed. Part of the reason why these are not needed on other National Rail services is that passengers are required to have reservations and to wear masks at all times other than when eating/drinking. In the case of the lounge car, this would mean that it had a very low capacity and might not be a particularly pleasant experience. I wonder if someone high up at CS has considered what would be needed to make the lounge car Covid-secure and has decided that it simply isn’t worth it?

I still think that some evening takeaway/room service might be an idea, even if it was just snacks and non-alcoholic drinks.
 

BRX

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There's no such thing as covid-secure, really.

I imagine that airlines will say that everyone is packed together anyway, and on longer flights people need to eat, and serving food will not significantly worsen the already existing situation.

On the other hand, on the sleeper there is the option for everyone to eat in their cabins, and bring stuff on board with them.
 

Bletchleyite

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I’m not sure about that one. I think, though, that the railway might have different regulations (and I notice from the CS website that seated passengers are not allowed to take alcohol into the seated coach- so the lounge car might have to be dry too). A lot of it might be because it’s impossible for staff to socially distance in the lounge car/kitchen area. I also wonder whether the capacity of the already small lounge car would become so small that it wouldn’t be worth running.

Because licensing doesn't apply to moving vehicles, I doubt the alcohol stipulation is a legal thing, but rather because the purpose (for CS) of the lounge car is to make money selling food and drink, not to have people bring it on from Tesco and block seats.

In other contexts, where licensing does apply, it is usually in breach to allow punters to bring their own. This is the case in YHA youth hostels, for example - the ones that sell alcohol can't have you consume your own in communal areas because it would breach the licence.
 

MrEd

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There's no such thing as covid-secure, really.

I imagine that airlines will say that everyone is packed together anyway, and on longer flights people need to eat, and serving food will not significantly worsen the already existing situation.

On the other hand, on the sleeper there is the option for everyone to eat in their cabins, and bring stuff on board with them.
I think you’re right. You can never eliminate the risk but I think what CS are doing is trying to reduce it as much as possible by reducing opportunities for contact between passengers and staff as well as other passengers. If you can keep everyone in their berths you have the ideal socially-distanced train service.
 

Butts

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I think you’re right. You can never eliminate the risk but I think what CS are doing is trying to reduce it as much as possible by reducing opportunities for contact between passengers and staff as well as other passengers. If you can keep everyone in their berths you have the ideal socially-distanced train service.

Well in the unlikely event I was travelling or working on a Sleeper I would be quite happy to frequent The Lounge Car in either capacity.

Let's get real you get closer to someone in Tesco.

Who wants to be stuck in your Cabin going stir crazy, you may as well be on a plane getting there far quicker.

Some people have obviously been vegetating at home too long on furlough and are frightened of their own shadow.
 

185143

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I’m not sure about that one. I think, though, that the railway might have different regulations (and I notice from the CS website that seated passengers are not allowed to take alcohol into the seated coach- so the lounge car might have to be dry too). A lot of it might be because it’s impossible for staff to socially distance in the lounge car/kitchen area. I also wonder whether the capacity of the already small lounge car would become so small that it wouldn’t be worth running.

There‘s also the issue of whether passengers would still need to wear masks when not eating/drinking, or whether screens and other modifications would be needed. Part of the reason why these are not needed on other National Rail services is that passengers are required to have reservations and to wear masks at all times other than when eating/drinking. In the case of the lounge car, this would mean that it had a very low capacity and might not be a particularly pleasant experience. I wonder if someone high up at CS has considered what would be needed to make the lounge car Covid-secure and has decided that it simply isn’t worth it?

I still think that some evening takeaway/room service might be an idea, even if it was just snacks and non-alcoholic drinks.
No alcohol in the seats??

I was thinking of booking a few trips, glad I saw that. What nonsensical gentlemen's vegetables is that?? Presumably I would be allowed to sit and drink soft drinks and eat all night, so what difference would it make assuming you stayed seated?
 

Butts

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No alcohol in the seats??

I was thinking of booking a few trips, glad I saw that. What nonsensical gentlemen's vegetables is that?? Presumably I would be allowed to sit and drink soft drinks and eat all night, so what difference would it make assuming you stayed seated?

It's nanny state on steroids :E

Does anyone from CS have to Fly up to Scotland in Club enjoying free alcohol in The Lounge before departure and onboard.

Shame BA don't run the CS - it wouldn't be dry then.
 

185143

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It's nanny state on steroids :E

Does anyone from CS have to Fly up to Scotland in Club enjoying free alcohol in The Lounge before departure and onboard.

Shame BA don't run the CS - it wouldn't be dry then.
Evidently the deadly killer virus only affects Anglo-Scottish passengers drinking alcohol whilst using LNER and Caledonian Sleeper seats. Those using Avanti, CrossCountry, TPE, BA, (presumably Easyjet and Loganair) or indeed Cally Sleeper rooms are evidently unaffected.
 

CBlue

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I'm not sure I'd have bothered with the sleeper anyway even before covid.

Given the amount you have to shell out for what doesn't sound like a particularly comfortable experience I think I'll stick to alternative means.
 

MrEd

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No alcohol in the seats??

I was thinking of booking a few trips, glad I saw that. What nonsensical gentlemen's vegetables is that?? Presumably I would be allowed to sit and drink soft drinks and eat all night, so what difference would it make assuming you stayed seated?
I’m afraid that’s what CS website says- sad but true. Unlike LNER from Aberdeen, I don’t think CS is frequented by troublesome groups of heavy-drinking offshore workers so I can’t think that is the reason. I wonder if it’s something that Transport Scotland has insisted on, as Scotrail services are not currently allowing alcohol consumption on board either (it’s fine to have it sealed in a shopping bag as long as you don’t consume it). I suppose it’s again minimising the risk of passengers who’ve had a few ignoring the social distancing and getting too close to one another- not that this ever usually happens in the seated coach. I think this is the reason why hospitality businesses in Scotland cannot serve alcohol indoors until 17 May (and in England can’t open indoors at all until that date).

Well in the unlikely event I was travelling or working on a Sleeper I would be quite happy to frequent The Lounge Car in either capacity.

Let's get real you get closer to someone in Tesco.

Who wants to be stuck in your Cabin going stir crazy, you may as well be on a plane getting there far quicker.

Some people have obviously been vegetating at home too long on furlough and are frightened of their own shadow.
I used the sleeper on a couple of occasions after the first lockdown last summer (in late August) and it was absolutely fine- not the usual experience but still perfectly comfortable and on time, and I got a good sleep. Eating a McDonalds or M&S sandwiches in the berth perhaps wasn‘t quite the ideal first class experience in an ideal world but at the end of the day, this is a global pandemic and I was very grateful for the fact that the sleeper was available as a means of getting north. It’s much safer than queuing in airports or being packed in on a plane, that’s for sure.

I am sure that CS are not just doing this to irritate folk but are taking the very best advice (based on hard science) on best practice from the Department for Transport and Transport Scotland. It’s strange that different TOCs have different policies but I’m sure they’ve all done comprehensive risk assessments based on government advice and implemented them. There will be logistical issues which ordinary passengers are not aware of but which must be taken into account, like how to make sure that the staff stay socially distanced (if a member of on-train staff tested positive, this could severely impact the service going forward as they and their colleagues would need to self-isolate). I don’t envy those who are in TOC management (or running any business) at the moment- they are acutely aware of the challenges that running a safe business (in which consumers have confidence) in a pandemic entails and of their duty of care to employees and customers.

It's nanny state on steroids :E

Does anyone from CS have to Fly up to Scotland in Club enjoying free alcohol in The Lounge before departure and onboard.

Shame BA don't run the CS - it wouldn't be dry then.
I have never used a BA flight nor ever flown to Scotland, but surely those facilities are closed at the present time?
 
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Butts

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I’m afraid that’s what CS website says- sad but true. Unlike LNER from Aberdeen, I don’t think CS is frequented by troublesome groups of heavy-drinking offshore workers so I can’t think that is the reason. I wonder if it’s something that Transport Scotland has insisted on, as Scotrail services are not currently allowing alcohol consumption on board either (it’s fine to have it sealed in a shopping bag as long as you don’t consume it). I suppose it’s again minimising the risk of passengers who’ve had a few ignoring the social distancing and getting too close to one another- not that this ever usually happens in the seated coach. I think this is the reason why hospitality businesses in Scotland cannot serve alcohol indoors until 17 May (and in England can’t open indoors at all until that date).


I used the sleeper on a couple of occasions after the first lockdown last summer (in late August) and it was absolutely fine- not the usual experience but still perfectly comfortable and on time, and I got a good sleep. Eating a McDonalds or M&S sandwiches in the berth perhaps wasn‘t quite the ideal first class experience in an ideal world but at the end of the day, this is a global pandemic and I was very grateful for the fact that the sleeper was available as a means of getting north. It’s much safer than queuing in airports or being packed in on a plane, that’s for sure.

I am sure that CS are not just doing this to irritate folk but are taking the very best advice (based on hard science) on best practice from the Department for Transport and Transport Scotland. It’s strange that different TOCs have different policies but I’m sure they’ve all done comprehensive risk assessments based on government advice and implemented them. There will be logistical issues which ordinary passengers are not aware of but which must be taken into account, like how to make sure that the staff stay socially distanced (if a member of on-train staff tested positive, this could severely impact the service going forward as they and their colleagues would need to self-isolate). I don’t envy those who are in TOC management (or running any business) at the moment- they are acutely aware of the challenges that running a safe business (in which consumers have confidence) in a pandemic entails and of their duty of care to employees and customers.


I have never used a BA flight nor ever flown to Scotland, but surely those facilities are closed at the present time?

I hope this does not disillusion you as you are a worthy advocate for CS but I feel they are taking you for a ride (without alcohol :E )

The BA Lounge is open in T5 (but closed EDI,GLA) serving free meals and alcohol.

You also get free alcohol and food onboard in Club Europe - Highland Park a nice Malt last time I went.

The staff are somehow able to perform this service inches from you and you may have a companion less than a metre (a lot less) next to you.

I'm sure all this would have been risk assessed and deemed to be safe.

Can you know acknowledge how ridiculous CS's policy looks in respect of this ?
 

MrEd

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I hope this does not disillusion you as you are a worthy advocate for CS but I feel they are taking you for a ride (without alcohol :E )

The BA Lounge is open in T5 (but closed EDI,GLA) serving free meals and alcohol.

You also get free alcohol and food onboard in Club Europe - Highland Park a nice Malt last time I went.

The staff are somehow able to perform this service inches from you and you may have a companion less than a metre (a lot less) next to you.

I'm sure all this would have been risk assessed and deemed to be safe.

Can you know acknowledge how ridiculous CS's policy looks in respect of this ?
That I didn’t know- but thanks for clarifying that. I agree that CS’ position is on the cautious side, to say the least. That said, it’s probably to be expected given that on-train catering is either non-existent (Scotrail, EMR) or severely curtailed (LNER, GWR, XC) on a number of other operators and seems to be the way most TOCs are going. It wouldn’t surprise me if a lot of routes in the UK lost catering completely after this. There may, of course, be a financial element given that loadings may well be very variable even when restrictions ease (and it is very unlikely that the train will be full to capacity). The cynic in me does wonder whether on-train catering is felt to be too much of an inconvenience/financial basket case on most routes to be worth bothering with. Although the lounge car is an important and well-liked aspect of the sleeper experience, it probably runs at a thumping loss and I wonder if CS want to cut that out at least until they know that the pandemic is as good as over and they can be assured of good loadings in the future.

I ought to add the disclaimer that I do not myself work for CS- in case anyone reading this thread thinks that to be the case- but I do know some of the Scottish-based staff members very well. They too are craving some much needed normality.
 

185143

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That I didn’t know- but thanks for clarifying that. I agree that CS’ position is on the cautious side, to say the least. That said, it’s probably to be expected given that on-train catering is either non-existent (Scotrail, EMR) or severely curtailed (LNER, GWR, XC) on a number of other operators and seems to be the way most TOCs are going. It wouldn’t surprise me if a lot of routes in the UK lost catering completely after this. There may, of course, be a financial element given that loadings may well be very variable even when restrictions ease (and it is very unlikely that the train will be full to capacity). The cynic in me does wonder whether on-train catering is felt to be too much of an inconvenience/financial basket case on most routes to be worth bothering with. Although the lounge car is an important and well-liked aspect of the sleeper experience, it probably runs at a thumping loss and I wonder if CS want to cut that out at least until they know that the pandemic is as good as over and they can be assured of good loadings in the future.

I ought to add the disclaimer that I do not myself work for CS- in case anyone reading this thread thinks that to be the case- but I do know some of the Scottish-based staff members very well. They too are craving some much needed normality.
I Suspect in a lot of cases, onboard catering is not being provided due to the vastly reduced passenger loading, rather than anything to do directly with Covid restrictions.

Certainly GA were more than happy to serve me with alcohol (obviously without a substantial meal) in December whilst London was in Tier 3 and East Anglia in Tier 2. I do believe, in the interests of fairness, that they suspended catering either when London went into Tier 4 or when lockdown came in though.
 

BRX

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It's nanny state on steroids :E

Does anyone from CS have to Fly up to Scotland in Club enjoying free alcohol in The Lounge before departure and onboard.

Shame BA don't run the CS - it wouldn't be dry then.
When I went back home to the highlands last summer, and was in contact with various relatives in their 70s and 80s, I was pretty grateful for the sleeper because it allowed me to get from Euston to Inverness with virtually zero risk of picking up covid on the journey. If the plane had been my only option, it would have made the chances of someone dying as a result of my journey that little bit higher.

I actually do think that CS have been rather over-cautious in some respects, and I've felt that their policy for the seats is out of step with all other operators, but in a pandemic scenario I really couldn't care less if I am offered free alcohol or not. If I wanted to drink on the sleeper I could buy what I want beforehand for a few pounds, something that anyone who's shelled out for a business class ticket can easily afford.

Things will hopefully gradually get back to normal and some level of risk will of course have to be accepted, but in the current circumstances, focussing on whether or not you get a free drink seems weird. If that's the main thing you have to worry about just now, lucky you!
 

Journeyman

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I hope this does not disillusion you as you are a worthy advocate for CS but I feel they are taking you for a ride (without alcohol :E )

The BA Lounge is open in T5 (but closed EDI,GLA) serving free meals and alcohol.

You also get free alcohol and food onboard in Club Europe - Highland Park a nice Malt last time I went.

The staff are somehow able to perform this service inches from you and you may have a companion less than a metre (a lot less) next to you.

I'm sure all this would have been risk assessed and deemed to be safe.

Can you know acknowledge how ridiculous CS's policy looks in respect of this ?
The major difference between the railway and flights is that airline cabin crew have to be there for safety purposes by law, and so they may as well serve food and drink at the same time.
 

Butts

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The major difference between the railway and flights is that airline cabin crew have to be there for safety purposes by law, and so they may as well serve food and drink at the same time.

Does that apply to the Guard on the Sleeper as well ?

Perhaps they could serve the Drinks :E
When I went back home to the highlands last summer, and was in contact with various relatives in their 70s and 80s, I was pretty grateful for the sleeper because it allowed me to get from Euston to Inverness with virtually zero risk of picking up covid on the journey. If the plane had been my only option, it would have made the chances of someone dying as a result of my journey that little bit higher.

I actually do think that CS have been rather over-cautious in some respects, and I've felt that their policy for the seats is out of step with all other operators, but in a pandemic scenario I really couldn't care less if I am offered free alcohol or not. If I wanted to drink on the sleeper I could buy what I want beforehand for a few pounds, something that anyone who's shelled out for a business class ticket can easily afford.

Things will hopefully gradually get back to normal and some level of risk will of course have to be accepted, but in the current circumstances, focussing on whether or not you get a free drink seems weird. If that's the main thing you have to worry about just now, lucky you!

If you were that worried about catching Covid I'm surprised you didn't drive.

How many people have contracted Covid on UK Domestic Flights they have been lightly loaded a lot of the time.

I'm not so bothered about a free drink but the availability of it to what on the surface seem farcical reasons.
 

MrEd

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When I went back home to the highlands last summer, and was in contact with various relatives in their 70s and 80s, I was pretty grateful for the sleeper because it allowed me to get from Euston to Inverness with virtually zero risk of picking up covid on the journey. If the plane had been my only option, it would have made the chances of someone dying as a result of my journey that little bit higher.

I actually do think that CS have been rather over-cautious in some respects, and I've felt that their policy for the seats is out of step with all other operators, but in a pandemic scenario I really couldn't care less if I am offered free alcohol or not. If I wanted to drink on the sleeper I could buy what I want beforehand for a few pounds, something that anyone who's shelled out for a business class ticket can easily afford.

Things will hopefully gradually get back to normal and some level of risk will of course have to be accepted, but in the current circumstances, focussing on whether or not you get a free drink seems weird. If that's the main thing you have to worry about just now, lucky you!
I agree with you. CS are doing their very best in a dreadful pandemic situation. Yes they are cautious but it’s probably better to be cautious than not at present. The lounge car is not a major worry at the moment.

Does that apply to the Guard on the Sleeper as well ?

Perhaps they could serve the Drinks :E


If you were that worried about catching Covid I'm surprised you didn't drive.

How many people have contracted Covid on UK Domestic Flights they have been lightly loaded a lot of the time.

I'm not so bothered about a free drink but the availability of it to what on the surface seem farcical reasons.
To be honest, the sleeper is probably slightly safer from a Covid perspective than driving- if you have a first class ticket you get a private (cleaned and sanitised) en-suite room for the whole journey. On a long drive from the south of England to the Highlands (and where the poster’s folk are could be way up north) you will have to stop at services several times which may mean crowds and questionable toilets... on which I’ll say no more. I for one would not attempt a car journey from the south of England to anywhere north of about Perth- I would have to break it up. I certainly do not fancy driving the A9 north of Dunkeld (or the A82) when tired!

If you can afford the fares and can sleep on it, the sleeper just seems a much better way of doing it- you spend dead time asleep and will hopefully wake up when the train is already at Dalwhinnie or wherever. I am cautious about Covid but didn’t feel in any way at risk travelling in a private cabin on the sleeper last year. Some day trains were a rather more hairy experience...

Perhaps it would seem less dubious if CS explained clearly but briefly why their lounge car was unavailable and when (approximately) they planned to reinstate it.
 
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williamn

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The comparison between trains and planes re Covid secure environments comes down to the air replacement and filtration on a plane - the air is replaced several times an hour and is passed through hospital grade filters - this doesn't happen on a train to my knowledge. Hence why its ok for crew to work in close proximity on a plane and serve food etc.

I do find the booze ban quite irksome and as I am about to start commuting twice a month between London and Glasgow it does rather influence my choice of operator. Not that I feel a need to get hammered, but having a couple of glasses of something after work while watching lovely scenery whizz by is one of the pleasures of train travel.

I've just taken the plunge and bought a Sleeper flexi pass and am please to see they are still offering upgrades to club rooms, so am very interested to sample the new trains for the first time.
 

Bill57p9

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My understanding was that the plan is for mainland Scotland to move from level 4 to level 3 restrictions on 26 April, which still prohibits non-essential travel across local authority boundaries. Obviously lots of pent up demand for essential travel between London & Fort William in the last week of April...

Going back to the reopening of the seated coach, looking at RTT & National Rail journey planner, it does appear that this excludes intermediate travel on the FTW portion, such as Rannoch to Fort William.
So much for the remote WHL communities doing their food shopping without an overnight stay in Fort William...
 

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