True stories from the Great Railway Disaster

A weekly chronicle of the absurdities caused by the Government's privatisation programme; No 75: so train drivers are having to take taxis?
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The Independent Online
ALL over the country, train companies are making increasing use of taxis to take drivers starting or finishing duty. Partly this is a consequence of train travel no longer being free for employees of other train companies. Therefore they are being told to take taxis or use their cars. But there are instances where extra journeys are beingcaused by rail privatisation.

Every weekday, a taxi travels from Newcastle to Derby with the crew of an InterCity train. The service, the Paignton to Newcastle, is operated by Cross Country but used to be crewed by InterCity East Coast staff. Cross Country, however, felt that the recently privatised East Coast charged too much for hiring out its staff and decided to use its own crews from 2 June. The Cross Country staff are based in Derby and so the company has to send them home by taxi on a 300-mile round trip costing an estimated pounds 200; the same taxi, fortunately, takes the crew of the 6.20am Newcastle to Plymouth on its return journey. Cross Country says this is "the most cost-effective way" of operating these trains using its own staff.

Keep sending examples of folly caused by rail privatisation or commercialisation to "Mad", Christian Wolmar, The Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL.

"The Independent on Sunday's Great British Rail Disaster" by Christian Wolmar, which includes more than 60 items from this column, has just been published by Ian Allan at pounds 5.99. If you have difficulty obtaining a copy, send a cheque or postal order, or Visa/Access authorisation, to: The Great British Railway Disaster, Ian Allan Ltd, Coombelands House, Coombelands Lane, Addlestone, Surrey, KT15 1HY. (Tel: 01932 855909, ext 235/236).