Letter: Road by rail

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The Independent Culture
Sir: It is disheartening that Railtrack is ditching piggyback plans for London to Glasgow (report, 19 November). The mind really boggles at this decision, bearing in mind the road congestion in this country and the Government's plans to move freight from road to rail.

Piggyback is particularly important now that we have a Channel Tunnel, and with proposals to upgrade the West Coast line (the extra cost to accommodate piggy-back traffic is put at pounds 100m only) lorry trailers could move on rail cars from places such as Glasgow, Manchester and Liverpool to terminals in Italy (such as Milan) and other European countries. After all, the system, has been used for many years from the French ports of Dunkirk, Le Havre and Cherbourg to centres in Italy and other countries and it is downright depressing to think of a missed opportunity. What a difference from the attitude of the Port of Tyne, which last month announced plans to establish a rail link from the deep Riverside Quay to other parts of the UK and through the Channel Tunnel to other European countries.

One hopes that John Prescott will put as much pressure as possible on Railtrack to ensure that their decision is reversed so as to implement the White Paper on the future of transport and ease the road congestion in this country (with its economic and environmental costs).

It is ironic that the flushing out of Railtrack by the Commons Select Committee last Wednesday was during the same week that Railtrack launched its nature conservation campaign.

DONALD DAVIES

London EC4

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