Cumbernauld’s MSP hails Caledonian Sleeper Scots catering announcement

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 22:45 on 17 June 2014.
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CUMBERNAULD and Kilsyth’s Member of the Scottish Parliament has hailed an announcement by Scottish Transport Minister, Keith Brown, that a Cumbernauld-based firm will be among the businesses to benefit from the new ‘Caledonian Sleeper Service’.

The Sleeper service provides a vital connection between London and Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Fort William, Glasgow, Inverness and many of Scotland's other main towns and cities.

On May 28th, it was announced that Serco Group plc, had been selected by Transport Scotland to manage the new 15-year franchise for the Caledonian Sleeper. The announcement meant that the service will be taken away from ScotRail in April 2015, when Serco will be responsible for operating all aspects of the Caledonian Sleeper including marketing, sales, passenger services, station facilities and fleet maintenance.  

Welcoming the announcement, Serco confirmed that they would invest over £100 million on new rolling stock, whilst the firm can expect to earn up to £800m from running the service, including some £180m from franchise payments.  

Speaking at the time, Rupert Soames, Serco Group Chief Executive Officer, said: "Serco has a strong track record of providing high quality and efficient rail services around the world, as well as experience in managing large-scale tourism-focussed transport services.”

“I am delighted that we can use this unique blend of expertise to transform the iconic Caledonian Sleeper into a modern, high quality hospitality service to make Scotland proud,” he added. 

“Serco has a very constructive relationship with many parts of Scottish Government and already operates essential public transport and many other services.  With 3,000 Serco employees living and working in Scotland, we are tremendously excited to be delivering these new developments and meeting the vision of Transport Scotland."

Serco Caledonian Sleepers Ltd has now been set-up to run and manage the overnight train service between over 40 stations in Scotland and London Euston; and, when the new service hits the rails next April, Cumbernauld benefit from every journey, after an announcement by Keith Brown MSP.

Scottish government Transport and Veterans Minister Keith Brown announced that Cumbernauld-based business ‘Food and Drinks Hub’ will have responsibility for facilitating the selection and provision of Scottish products available on-board.

Addressing the Scottish Parliament on May 28th, Mr Brown said: “The new franchise contract confirms the Scottish Government’s commitment to transform this iconic Scottish rail service. It will commence on 1 April 2015 and will deliver investment in the service for the next 15 years. It is good for passengers, good for staff and good for Scottish business. 

“In short, it is good for Scotland. The contract secures the future of the Caledonian sleeper and will ensure that it delivers a service that is fit for the 21st century and that it provides, as it has done for more than 100 years, a unique, valued and high-profile overnight service between Scotland and London.”

The Minister explained that the new service would benefit passengers most. 

Mr Brown said: “The Scottish Government’s commitment to investment has led to real success. New trains that have been designed especially for this service and which have been developed in consultation with passengers will be built, and that new fleet will be ready and on the tracks in 2018. 

“Its key features will include, in the seated accommodation, modern comfortable cradle seats and innovative pod seats that can transform into flatbeds; new standard-class sleeper berths; and business berths with en-suite shower and toilet facilities, making the train truly a hotel on wheels.

“Improved security will be built in for all passengers and their luggage, and there will be closed circuit television in all public areas of the train. Wi-Fi and power points—facilities that the modern traveller rightly expects—will be available to all passengers.

“The club car will be at the heart of the new trains, providing a welcoming place to eat, relax and socialise, and there will be special themed evenings to enhance the travel experience. Post journey, the guest services team will help passengers with onward connections as well as wider holiday and business planning.”

The Minister added: “The franchise is good for Scottish business. The new Caledonian sleeper franchisee will partner with Scottish businesses to deliver the hospitality service, supply excellent Scottish produce and provide furnishings, and the franchisee has committed to increasing its annual hospitality and catering spend with local Scottish small to medium-sized enterprises to 75 per cent by year 5 and to 90 per cent through the life of the contract.

“We have great produce in Scotland, and the sleeper will provide yet another opportunity to showcase it to the wider public. Many businesses, from Shetland to Stranraer and from Stornoway to Stonehaven, will directly benefit from contracts to support the service. The franchise is good for passengers, staff and Scottish business, and it will be good for Scotland in general.”

It took a question from Maureen Watt, SNP MSP for Aberdeen South and North Kincardine to confirm that Cumbernauld firm ‘Food and Drinks Hub’ would benefit from the new service.

“Can the minister tell the chamber how small and medium-sized enterprises can benefit from the new franchise more than they did in the past from the previous one?” Ms Watt asked the Minister.

In his response, Mr Brown said: “Yes, I can. I mentioned during my statement the increasing percentage that Scottish SMEs will benefit from—75 per cent of hospitality and catering spend by year 5 and 90 per cent by year 15.”

“I also mentioned the food hub in Cumbernauld, which will be used to facilitate the selection and provision of Scottish products. Glencraft in Aberdeenshire will be used to supply mattresses,” he added. 

“Laundry services will be provided by Scottish businesses and Shetland wool will be used for blankets. The Inverlochy Castle Management International group will help provide the food, which with the help of Albert Roux should be of world-class standard.”

Cumbernauld and Kilsyth MSP, Jamie Hepburn immediately welcomed the announcement, calling it “fantastic news”. 

The SNP man said: “This is fantastic news for an exciting local business. I have had the opportunity to visit the Food and Drink Hub recently and they are doing fantastic work, helping ensure that the wide range of the world class food and drink which Scotland has to offer can access different markets.

“The fact that this growing local success story is being given the opportunity to supply one of the most iconic train services in the country is very welcome indeed.

“I have no doubt that this arrangement will further benefit the Food and Drinks Hub, who will in turn ensure that all those traveling on the Caledonian Sleeper service will have access to a selection of the brilliant produce which Scotland’s food and drinks sector provides.”
 
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