Sign the petition - Campaign to save single sharing on the sleeper picks up speed
15 January 2018
TBI director Julian Paren, many of whose family and friends are regular users of the sleeper, and nearly always as single passengers, has become the driving force behind a rapidly growing campaign to persuade Serco / Caledonian Sleeper to reverse a change in charging structure due to come into force on 25 February. The proposed change would deprive single passengers of the opportunity of sharing a two-berth compartment with another single traveller of the same sex - at a huge discount against the fare for single occupancy - which has been available on the sleeper for as long as anyone can remember.
Of course not all single passengers will wish to share a cabin, and none have ever been required to do so, but to deprive those who are willing to share (for many of whom sharing brings using the sleeper within their financial reach) of the opportunity to do so, smacks of arrogance and extortion on the part of Caledonian Sleeper. Julian has calculated that for a single traveller currently willing and able to share, being compelled to pay for a single-occupancy cabin will represent a fare increase of around 65%, far in excess of anything which would be tolerated for any other service.
Apart from this fundamental issue of principle, there are a number of worrying aspects of the way the change is being introduced. One concerns the nature and results of the consultation "..with various stakeholders, including user groups", which Caledonian Sleeper claims to have taken place; another is the apparent absence of any announcement, advertising or publicity about the change, even on the Sleeper website; and yet another is the fact that introducing the change on 25 February appears to contravene the terms of the franchise agreement between Caledonian Sleeper and Scottish Ministers, which states in Schedule 5.2 that the shared berth ticket must be offered until the delivery of new train fleet, which is unlikely to happen before at least mid April.
A letter from Julian about the proposed change was published in the Ross-shire Journal on 12 January, and a short piece quoting Julian and a spokesman for Caledonian Sleeper appeared in the Inverness Courier on the same day. Julian has also written to the managing Director of Caledonian Sleeper asking how he can reconcile the withdrawal of the sharing ticket on 25 February with the terms of the franchise agreement, and TBI director Anne Thomas has set up a 38 Degrees petition requesting that the sharing option be continued. Contacts with other Transition groups and MSPs are also under way, to increase support for the campaign.
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