“Leave in time for a nightcap in the onboard bar and dine from a menu created from the finest Scottish produce. Enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep in your cosy cabin and wake refreshed to breakfast in bed.” Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? The Caledonian Sleeper train must be the ultimate way to travel between London and Edinburgh.
Or is it?
A little over two years ago, I ‘raced’ the Cornish Riviera sleeper train between London and Penzance and – by visiting every station and sticking to all the speed limits – I beat the train by a few seconds. No really, I did. It was a proper Top Gear-style photo finish. Only without the brilliantly-executed script and huge production budget. You can read about the exploits over on PetrolBlog.
I always promised myself I’d do it again. The sleeper train to Scotland was an opportunity too good to miss. So when Rolls-Royce got in touch to say that if I was ever planning to do something similar, they’d provide car, I jumped at the chance. And tonight, the race, or should I say, Wraith, is on. Hashtag #WraithTheTrain, etc, etc.
At around ten to midnight, the passengers onboard the Caledonian Sleeper will be settling down to enjoy a nightcap, before enjoying a relaxing sleep. Meanwhile, somewhere outside Euston Station, a pair of intrepid (read: foolish) explorers will be firing up the V12-engined Rolls-Royce Wraith and attempting to escape from London.
All things being equal, the train should pull into Edinburgh’s Waverley Station at 07:22, precisely 7 hours and 32 minutes after leaving London. By following a similar route to the train, essentially via the M6 to Carlisle and then across to Edinburgh, the Wraith should arrive within seven hours. Take the more direct route via the A1 and it takes 7 hours and 13 minutes. Either way, we should beat the train.
But throw into the equation Britain’s love affair with overnight roadworks, average speed cameras and delays getting out of London and into Edinburgh, and we have ourselves a leveller. A combined fuel consumption of 20.2mpg will result in a number of stops for fuel, so this one is going to be tight. Incidentally, the Wraith is currently averaging 14.1mpg…
Of course, you can get to Edinburgh quicker by taking a train at a more sensible time. But to do so would be to go without the luxury and class of the Caledonian Sleeper. And what better car to pit against the grace and pace of the luxotrain than a 6.6-litre Wraith, the most-powerful Rolls-Royce in history. With 623hp and 590lb ft of torque on tap, it’s hardly lacking in power. Mind you, at £255,365 (plus taxes), our test car represents a far more expensive route north than the price of a train ticket.
Right now, there are four questions to be answered. Firstly, will the amount of coffee consumed be greater than the amount of super unleaded? Secondly, which route will we actually take? Thirdly, will we actually beat the train to Edinburgh? Finally, wouldn’t it have been more sensible to stay at home to watch the Great British Bake Off?
Find out the answers to all this and more by following @MajorGav on Twitter or using the hashtag #WraithTheTrain. If you see us heading north, give us a Railway Children-style wave. But no petticoats. Thank you.
Sleeper photo © Ed Webster / Wikipedia