BRITISH freight operator GB Railfreight (GBRf) has begun a new seven-year contract that will see it continue to provide haulage for Caledonian Sleeper overnight services connecting London with Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen and Fort William in Scotland.

The new contract came into effect on June 25, when operation of the Caledonian Sleeper passed from Serco to Caledonian Sleeper Ltd, an arm’s-length company owned by the Scottish government and reporting to its transport agency, Transport Scotland.

A total of seven Caledonian Sleeper trains of Mk 5 coaches are operated every night of the week except for Saturday. As well as services to Glasgow and Edinburgh, there is another train that then divides in Scotland to serve Inverness, Aberdeen and Fort William.

GBRf will continue to haul the Caledonian Sleeper using its class 92 electric locomotives on the West Coast Main Line and class 73 locomotives on non-electrified routes in Scotland.

According to GBRf, the length of the new agreement offers the potential to deploy its class 99 bi-mode fleet in future, significantly reducing CO2 emissions.

The Caledonian Sleeper has been hauled by GBRf since 2015, and the new agreement remains in line with the original 15-year contract term, running until 2030.

GBRf says that this will minimise disruption for passengers during the transition to public ownership, “at a time when the service is seeing the highest levels of demand.”

“As the iconic Caledonian Sleeper enters a new era, we are extremely proud to be working with Transport Scotland and look forward to continuing to deliver fantastic service to passengers for many years to come,” says GBRf CEO, Mr John Smith.

“It is fitting that we recognise the successes of the staff and management at the Caledonian Sleeper who have transformed this service, and who will remain as valued members of the team,” says Scottish transport minister, Ms Fiona Hyslop.

“In recent years, the Caledonian Sleeper has flourished, with increasing numbers of people using its unique journey opportunities. The service plays an important role in showcasing the best of Scotland and I look forward to building on that success in the years to come.”