Caledonian Sleeper 1S25 Train from London Euston to Inverness
The Caledonian Sleeper is the overnight sleeper train services between London and Scotland which was one of my targets to ride on while I was in the UK. Before heading back to Edinburgh, I decided to extend my journey instead to John o’ Groats on Great Britain’s northeastern tip, making this Caledonian Sleeper trip not a joyride with a detour, but a joyride while en route to another adventure.
While I know that there is a Caledonian Sleeper to Edinburgh as well, the fare was the same if I had gone to Inverness anyway, so I might as well travel further for the same price.
London Euston Railway Station
The Caledonian Sleeper departs from London Euston Railway Station as it traditionally travels on the West Coast Main Line.
On first impression, Euston isn’t as grand as other London terminals as instead of a station façade, I was greeted by a taxi stand with barricades and walkways around it.
Euston Bus Station also sits in front of London Euston Railway Station, which blocks the view of the station façade from the main road.
There is a sheltered walkway into London Euston Railway Station past some construction works.
The façade of London Euston Railway Station. It looks a bit small from the outside, but the station footprint is quite huge.
The waiting hall of London Euston Railway Station with passengers looking up to the departure boards to check for platforms.
On first impression, I thought Euston looked a bit American.
Train information for my Caledonian Sleeper Highlander was displayed in 3 separate pages as the train would later divide into 3 parts for Inverness, Fort William, and Aberdeen.
The departure board also indicated where each portion is attached on the train.
The Caledonian Sleeper Highlander, however, usually departs from Platform 1, so I headed there to have a look.
Heading down the ramp to the platforms.
Caledonian Sleeper Highlander
And true enough, there was the Caledonian Sleeper Highlander waiting at Platform 1 for her passengers.
GB Railfreight Class 92 92028 was at the rear of my train.
At 8pm, 30 minutes before departure, boarding of the Caledonian Sleeper Highlander commenced at Platform 1.
Tickets are checked manually by a staff at the gate line.
GB Railfreight Class 92 92028 was already decoupled from the rake of the Caledonian Sleeper Highlander.
The rear section of the train is bound for Aberdeen.
This follows by a short Fort William section in the middle with just 2 sleeper cars.
Caledonian Sleeper Seated Coach
The front section where I am in is for Inverness, and Coach H is where the seat car is. Unfortunately no sleeper car for me since it was quite pricey on the date of my trip.
The interior of the Caledonian Sleeper seat car. Seats are in a 2+1 configuration in a mixed fixed forward and reverse direction, with all seats airline-style, similar to a First Class layout, and perhaps rightfully so since higher fares are charged for the Caledonian Sleeper. Tables are only provided at end seats, without facing seats. Exact seats can be reserved during booking.
My single seat at 08A.
An amenity kit and refreshments menu is placed on every seat.
The amenity kit consists of 1 eyeshade, a pair of earplugs, and a bar of soap.
The legroom on board the Caledonian Sleeper seat which doesn’t look too bad. There is also a fold-down footrest. The seat “reclines” with a forward slide.
A USB and 3-pin power socket is available in front beside the head rest of the front seat.
A reading light is available on the side of the head rest.
A fold-down tray table is available with a portion that slides out to create more space if needed.
A locker with pin code is available above each seat.
Seats on the pair side have 2 lockers side by side.
Seats are evenly aligned and the pair side has similar legroom and seat facilities.
There is a button on the side of the seat for a slide “recline”.
A wheelchair-accessible toilet is available on board the seated coach.
Bicycle and luggage storage is also available on board the seated coach.
Caledonian Sleeper Club Car
The Club Car is the buffet and lounge coach on board the Caledonian Sleeper. However, class segregation is in place, and passengers in the seated coach are not allowed to use the Club Car.
However, it was possible for me to sneak a peek in the Club Car before departure.
The Club Car features bays of 2 or 4 seats for dining around tables. There is also a row of individual seats on a bar table facing out of the windows. Restaurant service is provided on board with orders taken and served by a steward.
The galley is located on board the Club Car as well.
GB Railfreight Class 92 92020 Billy Stirling leads my Caledonian Sleeper Highlander out of London Euston.
Unfortunately, it was not possible to get a proper front short as the platform just fit the train almost exactly.
My Caledonian Sleeper 1S25 departed from London Euston on time at 8.30pm.
A call button for the steward is available above each seat. The steward is available for any journey questions and to take any orders from the Club Car.
There are 3 mains available for dinner on board the Caledonian Sleeper Highlander, along with a Scottish Cheeseboard and a milk chocolate torte for dessert.
The Lowlander menu was also printed in the Highlander menu.
A good variety of wines and spirits were also available, along with beers, mixers, non-alcoholic soft drinks, and non-alcoholic hot drinks.
While the next station was Edinburgh Waverley, it is an operational stop only for splitting the train into 3 parts, and tickets are not sold on the Caledonian Sleeper Highlander to Edinburgh Waverley only.
The final destination of this section of train is Inverness.
As my Caledonian Sleeper 1S25 train on was diverted to travel on the East Coast Main Line instead of the West Coast Main Line due to engineering works, my Caledonian Sleeper 1S25 train stopped in Wembley Yard for some time before changing directions here.
Passing by Camden Road Railway Station on the London Overground to access the East Coast Main Line at Copenhagen Junction. Not a usual train to be travelling on the London Overground line.
Caledonian Sleeper Haggis, Neeps & Tatties
Being in the seated coach, I could only order dinner via the steward with the call button. To my utmost disappointment, the meal was not served on proper plates, but in a generic takeaway box.
This is in is stark contrast to the at-seat service offered on the Deutsche Bahn ICE in 1st Class with proper china and metal cutlery.
I ordered my dinner of Haggis, Neeps & Tatties for £10.50 since I was going to Scotland.
Haggis is a traditional Scottish dish made with sheep’s offal of heart, liver, and lungs, minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and cooked while traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach. Neeps refer to mashed turnips, and tatties are mashed potatoes.
The Haggis, Neeps & Tatties was quite tasty, perhaps freshly cooked and wasn’t covered for too long yet. The brown sauce also blended the 3 dishes well.
Edinburgh Waverley Railway Station
My Caledonian Sleeper 1S25 train arrived at Edinburgh Waverley Railway Station at 3.36am – 9 minutes early.
Only my coach’s door was open for operational purposes since it was now the end of the train, and I alighted with special permission for photos. The decoupling process had already started.
An additional Club Car and seated car is on standby to be attached to the 2 sleeper coaches bound for Fort William.
GB Railfreight Class 66 66743 in Royal Scotsman livery and GB Railfreight Class 73 73969 in Caledonian Sleeper livery will lead my Caledonian Sleeper 1S25 onwards from Edinburgh Waverley to Inverness.
GB Railfreight 66743 and 73969 coupling to the rake of Caledonian Sleeper 1S25 bound for Inverness.
Stirling Railway Station
Making a brief stop at Stirling Railway Station.
Dunblane Railway Station
Making a brief stop at Dunblane Railway Station.
Gleneagles Railway Station
Making a brief stop at Gleneagles Railway Station.
My Caledonian Sleeper 1S25 also stopped at Perth, Dunkeld & Birnam, Pitlochry, and Blair Atholl when I was sleeping.
The sunrise and morning mist scenery gets dramatic in the Scottish highlands.
Dalwhinnie Railway Station
Making a brief stop at Dalwhinnie Railway Station.
Kingussie Railway Station
Making a brief stop at Kingussie Railway Station.
The information screen shows local points of interests when the Caledonian Sleeper train is passing by them.
The description font is a little bit small though, probably catered for sleeping car passengers.
Aviemore Railway Station
Making a brief stop at Aviemore Railway Station.
Passing by the Strathspey Railway.
Crossing over the River Findhorn on the Findhorn Viaduct.
Passing by ScotRail Inverness Depot.
Inverness Railway Station
My Caledonian Sleeper 1S25 arrived at Inverness Railway Station at 8.27am – 15 minutes early.
The station layout is shown on the information screen on board the Caledonian Sleeper Caledonian Sleeper train.
My Coach H was at the front of the train at Inverness Railway Station so not much walking was needed.
GB Railfreight Class 73 73969 in Caledonian Sleeper livery at Inverness Railway Station.
GB Railfreight Class 66 66743 in Royal Scotsman livery at Inverness Railway Station.
GB Railfreight Class 73 73969 at Inverness Railway Station.
Haven’t officially taken a Belmond train yet but I guess this is a good pretend.
The Great Scottish and Western Railway Co. (GS&WR) Royal Scotsman crest is still kept on the Belmond Royal Scotsman locomotive.
Heading out through the ticket barriers.
The main concourse of Inverness Railway Station.
Heading out of Inverness Railway Station.
The façade of Inverness Railway Station.
Here, I got breakfast before continuing on the journey to Wick.
The Caledonian Sleeper is a premium way to travel overnight from London to Scotland. It’s an overnight train which is comfortable and convenient if you have the budget for a compartment in a sleeping car, but it’s not as comfortable if you’re in a seat.
Even after my 26-30 Railcard discount, my fare was still £49.50 which is low by Caledonian Sleeper standards. This was also the same fare if I had taken the Lowlander to Edinburgh, which means it’s almost double the price of the LNER Azuma and Lumo on good days. The seat is comfortable as a seat in itself, since it’s wider and I had a single forward-facing seat throughout the trip, but still, it is a seat for an overnight journey. A compartment would of course be nice, but the difference in fare was almost 3 times, and I would rather use that money for a trip to Wick, Thurso, and John o’ Groats.
Perhaps the worst annoyance was that seat passengers are not allowed to use the Club Car, which feels discriminatory for a communal space. While meals can still be ordered at-seat, they were served in a takeaway box with disposable cutlery, which is in stark contrast to the at-seat service offered on the Deutsche Bahn ICE in 1st Class with proper china and metal cutlery.
Nevertheless, the Caledonian Sleeper is a bucket list train, and I have ticked it off.