HITRANS – the Highlands & Islands Transport Partnership – is devising a plan for utilising Mk 3 sleeper vehicles on a new route from Caithness to the Scottish central belt. The ‘Nighthawk’ plan envisages using the vehicles, which will be made redundant on Anglo-Scottish routes by the arrival of new Mk 5 carriages from CAF on the Caledonian Sleeper, on a new overnight service from Wick and Thurso to Glasgow and Edinburgh. The journey would take about seven hours and the service would connect with sailings from Orkney, improving connections between Kirkwall and the Scottish capital.
Meanwhile, at the end of January, 15 bodyshells were complete of the 75 vehicles being built for the Anglo-Scottish services by CAF in Spain. A completed car is due to go to the Velím test track in the Czech Republic in July, with cars starting to arrive in the UK in September 2017. All the vehicles are due to be in service by the end of April 2018.
The new vehicles will be commissioned on Polmadie down side and Alstom is to maintain them when in service.