The firm running the Caledonian Sleeper service between Scotland and London is to lose its contract in June of next year, the Scottish Government has confirmed.
Transport minister Jenny Gilruth confirmed on Wednesday that a decision has been made in respect of the Serco Caledonian Sleeper contract in response to a parliamentary question.
She said the service, which has been run by Serco for the last seven years, “does not represent value for money to the public”, adding that the contractual agreement would end on June 25, 2023.
Gilruth said: “I can confirm that today Serco Caledonian Sleepers Limited has been advised that its proposal to rebase the Franchise Agreement with Scottish ministers for the provision of Caledonian Sleeper rail services has been rejected on the grounds of not representing value for money to the public.
“Additionally, I can confirm that a notice was served today which confirms that the Scottish Ministers will terminate the Franchise Agreement with Serco Caledonian Sleepers Limited on June 25, 2023.”
It is not clear who will take over the running of the trains, which offer services from as far north as Inverness to London, however there has been no intimation that the Caledonian Sleeper could also end up in public hands.
“Work is underway to determine arrangements for the continued provision of Caledonian Sleeper rail services beyond June 25, 2023 and this will be updated to Parliament once determined.
“It is worth noting that Serco Caledonian Sleepers Limited has, broadly, delivered well and significantly improved Caledonian Sleeper services over the last 7 years.”
Existing services and timetables will continue until the end of the contract.
Train driver union ASLEF welcomed the news, and called for the service to join ScotRail as part of the nationalised railway service.
ASLEF Scottish regional organiser Kevin Lindsay said: “ASLEF warmly welcomes this decision to strip Serco of the sleeper franchise. The sleeper service should now join Scotrail as part of Scotland’s public railway.
“The fact that the Scottish Government has ended the SERCO Sleeper franchise seven years earlier speaks to the abject failure of this privateer to effectively run this service.
“No rail service in Scotland should ever again be run by privateers. We need accountable and committed public ownership that runs our rail services for the benefit of staff and passengers and not by those whose only interest is their profit margins and their shareholders.
“It is now time for a renewed focus on passengers and staff with increased investment and a commitment to the continuing improvement of our rail services in Scotland.”