Post-travel aftercare

By | Category: Travel rumblings
sleppers to Thurso? Now that would be different

sleepers to Thurso? Now that would be different

The expression sounds medical but that certainly wasn’t what was meant when Keith Brown, the Scottish government’s Minister for Tourism and Veterans (what an odd grouping) announced the awarding of the sleeper franchise contract this week.

Or I hope he didn’t.

From April Fool’s Day next year, Serco Caledonian Sleepers Ltd will be running the franchise for the London-Scotland overnight train service. I make no comment about the date although why do so many government organisations use this date when it gives people like me the opportunity to have fun – a thing I personally would never do!

According the minister, “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.” Does he mean that as well as seated accommodation we can stand all the way?

Apart from sounding like a press release from a PR professional, the minister was also caught out on a lie about whether the Scottish government had considered ending the overnight service at Edinburgh instead of continuing to the highlands so maybe we ca understand why it should be glowingly painted.

But does that explain the aftercare? Later on he said, “Post journey, the guest services team will help passengers with onward connections as well as wider holiday and business planning.” In other words they will do what they should do anyway and which railway companies have done almost since they started. And they do it because they can – in many cases – get a commission from the provider of the services that they sell.

So what we really have is a government minister putting the best gloss on the awarding of a contract to a company by making it sound like a glamorous new opportunity. When in fact, how many will notice a difference? Now if the sleeper continued to Thurso or Ullapool or start from somewhere other than London, that really would be different

 

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