In his autumn statement of 2011, the Chancellor announced a commitment to contribute £50 million towards the cost of improving and upgrading the Caledonian sleeper service, including rolling stock and infrastructure improvements. We understand that new rolling stock will start to be introduced in the autumn. Under the devolved arrangements relating to the railways in Scotland, the Caledonian sleeper service is the responsibility of the Scottish Government and operates under a franchise procured by Scottish Ministers.
The northern sleeper service is good for the environment, stress-free, fun and actually rather romantic. Does the Minister agree that further development would do much to boost tourism in the highlands and in my constituency?
We do like romance, and the new trains will offer improved facilities, comfort, hospitality and security for passengers. Passengers’ experience will be enhanced, supported by improved ticketing, booking channels and information, station improvements and support for post-travel arrangements. Staying on the theme of romance, I know that the hon. Gentleman has a particular interest in disability and access, for which these trains will be suitable, as he has a close family member with disability issues.
That sounds like a very agreeable adventure to me. I must obviously add it to my bucket list.