If you thought the era of romantic train travel was as dead as a bad guy on the Orient Express, two UK companies are here to change your mind.
Great Western Railway (GWR), which run the overnight service to Cornwall in Southwest England, and the Caledonian Sleeper, which runs trains to Inverness and Fort William in Scotland, are getting upgraded to give travellers a more glamorous and comfortable journey.
Overnight sleeper services have operated on these routes since the 1870s and have always been popular – the idea of falling asleep to the hypnotic clickety-clack of the train and waking up far from London (where both services begin) means these journeys have long appealed to those who see travel as much more than just getting from A to B.
Aiming to restore a little glitz to the trips and realising that 21st-century passengers expect a few more mod-cons than their Victorian counterparts did, new stock being rolled out in 2018 will see revamped sleeping compartments. On the GWR ‘Night Riviera’ service (how’s that for a romantic name?) there’ll now be a new in-room sink, extra luggage space, free Wi-Fi, a reading light and sockets for recharging all your electronic devices. Plus the bottom bunk will double up as a couch and there’s a complimentary breakfast. On the Caledonian Sleeper you’ll be able to book a Suite, which comes with a double bed and en-suite bathroom (the first time ever on UK trains) for an experience that will make you feel like you’re staying in a mobile hotel. The Club Room will keep the famous bunk beds (so you’ll have to fight over who gets the top one) but will also have a private bathroom.
The Night Riviera leaves Paddington Station in London around 11.45pm, getting you into Penzance on the Cornish coast around 8am the next morning. Prices start from £60 a cabin. The Caledonian Sleeper leaves Euston Station around 9.15pm, arriving in Inverness at 8.40am and Fort William at 9.55am. Fares start at £80.