Letter: Train misery

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Exactly one week before Railtrack announced its pounds 428m profit (report, 28 May), my train from London to Edinburgh was halted in its tracks for two and a half hours by a failed overhead power cable. When we finally got going, it was only to limp backwards to Darlington where the customers were given the opportunity to fight for places on northbound coaches.

Having ridden trains in 40 countries, I know that one has to go to some of the poorest in Africa to find a similar level of miserable service. And they at least have cheap fares!

Of course, it was no better under British Rail, suggesting that we simply lack the political will as a nation to provide the quality of public transport which is taken for granted in modern countries as different as Sweden, Spain and Singapore. It certainly makes it difficult to remain convinced that rail is a viable alternative to the plane or the car.

Professor MICHAEL CARLEY

Edinburgh

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