Letter from the editor: Pining for British Rail


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The Independent Online

Where are you reading your copy of i today? Perhaps you are picking us up for the first time boarding a BA plane to somewhere exotic. If so, welcome.

If you really like the paper, and want more while away, download our simple iPad app for only 20p a day.

For many readers the more prosaic truth is that you will be reading this on some mode of public transport that is likely crawling through an apparently inexorable series of obstacles to get you to work. For me, it’s the 27 bus, and I am lucky enough to get a seat every day on the way in as I live near the start of the route. At the day’s close it’s necking couples, tired Chinese restaurant staff (with leftovers), and a drunk sleeper. The glamour! At least I get a seat in which to re-re-read the i edition we finished the previous day. A little sad, I know.

You might have a seat on your train, Tube or bus—but more likely you are stuffed in like that clichéd sardine, with scarcely the space to turn the pages of your paper. We try to design i with this in mind, placing the concise crossword where you might manage to do it without too much contortion. All of you will read news of an 8 per cent rise in rail fares.This, on top of the18 per cent leap in the cost of gas and soaring food prices will hit you still further where it hurts.

The usual guff about investment in improved services has followed, but it’s as clear as the average platform announcement just where this so called investment has gone since this most unpopular of all privatisations in 1996. The most surprising thing about the astonishingly blithe industry announcement that it will increase fares by 3 per cent ahead of what is already a stiff 5 per cent inflation hike is not that it inspired protests of the kind we witnessed at Waterloo and elsewhere, but that it has made some of us pine for British Rail. Words I thought I’d never write.