Scottish sleeper service funds announced

Sleeper service The investment aims to fund an improvement programme for the service

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The Scottish government has committed £50m in funding to secure cross-border sleeper train services.

This matches £50m in UK government investment detailed in Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement.

Mr Osborne made the funds available on the condition Holyrood ministers agreed to co-fund an improvement programme.

The money will be used to replace the cross-border Caledonian Sleeper fleet, which is coming to the end of its life, and improve on-train facilities.

It was understood the chancellor's funding offer would have been withdrawn if a deal between ministers in Edinburgh and London was not reached before the end of the year.

Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown said: "The Scottish government provides significant support for the Caledonian sleepers through the existing ScotRail franchise and it was always our intention to ensure a continuing and improving service for passengers beyond 2014.

"I am delighted to now confirm that we have submitted proposals to the Treasury that will see us invest, as a minimum, £50m to ensure that the Caledonian sleepers are enhanced to offer better facilities and a more responsive service to passenger needs."

Mr Brown said he was now waiting for a response from the Treasury on making the funding available.

A Transport Scotland consultation on rail services is currently asking for views on the sleeper service.

Options being considered are removing the Highland or Lowland service, or running the Lowland services to and from Edinburgh only.

Scottish Labour's Infrastructure and Capital Investment spokesman, Richard Baker, said: "I am pleased that the Scottish government has seen sense and responded positively to Scottish Labour's campaign to save the sleeper, which so many Scots depend on.

"But let's not forget, it was the SNP government's very own controversial consultation that proposed cutting the sleeper service.

"We still have serious concerns over SNP plans to cut the number of trains, increase journey times and to end cross-border trains."

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