Letter: Rail firms on track

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The sad truth about the rail cuts in the West Country is that they are happening despite bouyant (not falling) passenger numbers. On the Looe-Liskeard line one axed train, the 4.30pm "bucket and spade special", is among the busiest. On the Exeter-Barnstaple (Tarka) line, there were 285,000 journeys in 1998 - 3.6 per cent up on 1997. Another line where services are being cut, Truro-Falmouth, saw a 14-per-cent increase.

These are not neglected, little used routes, but ones where our Partnership has painstakingly worked for revival, investing heavily in marketing and station improvements with EU aid. This chimes in precisely with action advocated by Jonathan Bray, yet cuts are being imposed.

The reason is simple. The "safeguards" put in place at privatisation did not protect all these services, and were therefore too weak to maintain provision in the face of tapering public subsidies.

Professor DAVID PINDER

Chair, Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership

University of Plymouth

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