Letter: Rail disasters

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Geoffrey Thompson (letter, 15 July) is right: any "cheap fares"

policy for London that does not apply to mainline suburban services is

unfair to the "ratepayers" of the south-east quadrant of London, which

is not served by the Underground.

The answer is to emulate German cities such as Hamburg by creating a

Verkehrsverbund that incorporates mainline suburban services. Such a "transport

confederation", independent of city government but acting in the city's

best interests, would receive all fare revenues from the transport operators

and would refund their operating costs. Investment would be funded through

the confederation, which would have the same overall planning role as

the former GLC.

Lack of such an overall planning body for rail development has, I am

convinced, been the main reason for London's lamentable lack of progress,

compared with German cities and Paris, over many decades. Separate planning

staffs at London Transport and British Rail saw themselves as rivals for

public funds, and put forward competitive schemes inspired by no overall


In recent years the "Crossrail" scheme (a tunnel route carrying mainline

trains) has been in competition with the LT "Chelsea-Hackney" scheme (for

yet another small-bore tube line).