New Caledonian Sleeper carriages on the road to Velim


In a major programme milestone, the first of the 75 new carriages for the iconic Caledonian Sleeper service have arrived at the Velim test centre in the Czech Republic, where they are to undergo several weeks’ testing.

Five carriages, two seated, one Club and two sleeper, were despatched earlier this month from the factory in Beasain, northern Spain where the new fleet is being manufactured and assembled for Serco by CAF. They were transported by road from the CAF factory to Hendaye station in France where they started their rail transit to the Czech Republic.

Dynamic testing will start in the near future at Velim Test Centre and will last several weeks. Once these tests are successfully completed, the carriages will then be moved from Velim to Polmadie in Glasgow, UK via the Channel Tunnel.  The UK test programme is expected to start before the end of the year, initially with static and locomotive interface testing, progressing later to dynamic testing.

Serco committed to the introduction of the new fleet when it won the contract in 2014. It represents an investment of over £100m, part-funded by a £60m capital grant from Scottish Ministers, and when introduced in 2018 it will bring new standards in guest comfort.

Commenting on the start of the Czech trials, Peter Strachan, Serco’s Chairman, UK Rail, said: “It’s great to see the first of the new carriages on the move. To design, build and introduce a new fleet of rail sleeper coaches is extremely challenging and complex. Achieving this milestone is entirely due to the professionalism of the Serco team and everyone involved across the rail industry. We still have a lot of work to do to successfully bring the new sleeper fleet into service next year, but I am really excited about the quality of experience we will be able to offer our guests when it arrives.”

The carriages will offer four innovative ways to travel in comfort on the Sleeper service – reclining seats, berths, en-suite berths and luxurious ensuite double rooms for couples. The service will also include a Brasserie style Club Car for dining. Other new features being introduced include a hotel style key-card entry system to rooms, phone and gadget charging facilities for all guests and on-board WiFi. The new look and feel of the carriages has been overseen by award winning Scottish interior designer Ian Smith, with the patterns reflecting a contemporary Scotland theme.

Serco began operating the Caledonian Sleepers rail franchise for Scottish Ministers in April 2015 and has already brought in many improvements to the current fleet. These have included opening a new Guest Services Centre in Inverness; a new booking website allowing guests to book up to 12 months in advance; new bedding with more comfortable pillows and duvets; new customer sleep packs – upgraded dining options with seasonal local produce menu; procurement that focuses on Scottish food and drink sourced from local suppliers; new smart branding with new uniforms; on board events and a new on-board magazine.


New Intercity Express Trains for Devon and Cornwall begin testing


Class 802 at Stoke Gifford (Bristol) depot

Passengers in the South West are a step closer to experiencing new trains as Hitachi begins testing the Class 802 fleet.

On Tuesday 8th August, the first of Great Western Railway’s Intercity Express Trains for Devon and Cornwall carried out test runs in Somerset, between Bruton and Cogload.

Two more trains are due to arrive in the South West within the coming weeks as part of a comprehensive test programme.
Modern trains designed for Devon and Cornwall

From 2018 this fleet of Class 802 Intercity Express Trains, which is being financed by Eversholt Rail, will connect London Paddington to Exeter, Plymouth, Penzance and many more communities.

Part of GWR’s new Intercity fleet, the 36 Class 802s are fitted with bi-mode technology, allowing trains to use both diesel and electric power, ensuring passengers experience new trains as soon as possible.

Passengers will benefit from more seats, better on-board facilities and shorter journey times.

The Intercity Express Train is also designed to withstand the region’s variable weather conditions, including routes along the Dawlish coast. These new trains harness Hitachi’s Japanese bullet train technology and will offer a step-change in the journey experience for passengers.

Berry Sas, Projects Director at Hitachi Rail Europe, said:
“This is an exciting milestone for our team as we ensure the trains are delivered on time and in top condition. Passengers and enthusiasts will be able to catch glimpses of the new trains as they begin regular test runs in the region”

Mark Hopwood, Managing Director of GWR, said:
“We know how important the railway is to the economies and communities of the South West, and the start of testing today marks another milestone in delivering the improvements we know our passengers wish to see.

“These trains will help us deliver faster, more frequent services into the South West, each providing up to a fifth more seats per train.”

Wilhelmshaven reinforces rail link to the Rhine-Ruhr region


EUROGATE Container Terminal Wilhelmshaven has extended its rail connections to the Rhine-Ruhr region. As of now, container trains will operate once weekly between EUROGATE Container Terminal Wilhelmshaven and Container Terminal Dortmund. The Rhine-Ruhr region is one of Germany’s most important economic centres with a high foreign trade share and is among the world’s major metropolitan regions. Besides connections to the Europe-wide rail network, Dortmund’s port is linked to all major German and European inland ports via the canal network. In April, duisport already established a weekly connection between Wilhelmshaven and Duisburg Port. Rail services to and from the container port in Wilhelmshaven have been massively extended since April 2017. In the meantime, Rail Terminal Wilhelmshaven handles up to 25 container trains a week. For an overview of all rail connections, go to

Container Terminal Dortmund operates two terminals in Dortmund for the combined transport of goods. The terminal went into operation in early 2016 and has four tracks with a length of 724 metres each. The container trains run once a week on Wednesdays (at 5.00 h) from Dortmund and on Thursdays (at 2.30 h) from Wilhelmshaven. The trains each have a freight capacity of 100 standard containers (TEUs).