24th February 1873

Caledonian Sleeper carries its first passengers

The first passengers to ride on a British sleeper train entered their berths at Glasgow on 24 February 1873. The route on which they were booked would taken them down the East Coast Main Line, bound for London King’s Cross.

One week later, on 1 March, the Derbyshire Courier – which had apparently overlooked the fact that the train also ran on Scottish lines – reported that “the first sleeping carriage for use on an English railway was used on the journey from Glasgow to London on Monday night, and reached the Great Northern terminus, King’s Cross, at eight p.m. This carriage was put on the line a fortnight ago for its first trip to London, but owing to a heated axle-box (an accident that may happen to any carriage), was uncoupled from the train and sent back.”

Rival service

A rival service, launched later that year, took passengers down the West Coast Main Line to Euston. Today, all services use Euston at the London end and, in Scotland, with various carriage separations, start from or terminate at Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen (via Dundee), Fort William or Inverness. For a while, there was also a route serving Bristol.

The various services were combined over time and, in 1996, were rebranded after years of loss-making operation. On 5 June, the Dundee Courier reported that “a revitalised sleeper train service between Scotland and London was launched by ScotRail yesterday with a promise that ‘it is only the beginning’…  it is hoped the newly named Caledonian Sleepers can win back customers with a service which emphasises quality, style and comfort.”



Other events that occured in February

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