The Rail Debate: Will all this create a better service?

'THAT is a very difficult question to answer.' Sir Bob Reid, BR chairman.

'The Government are making policy on the hoof, writing the script as they go along.' Jimmy Knapp, leader of the rail union.

'Fares will rocket, investment will plummet, services will be cut and the railway network will contract.' Richard Rosser, leader of the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association.

'The mere prospect of privatisation already threatens thousands of jobs in the railway manufacturing industry . . . The ghost of Dr Beeching may soon stalk the land.' Robert Adley, Conservative chairman of Commons Transport Select Committee.

'The existing culture (within BR) is more about keeping the trains running than the market-oriented thrust of identifying what the customer wants and then being flexible enough to deliver.' John MacGregor, Secretary of State for Transport.

'At a stroke, the Government has succeeded in increasing doubt about the future for railway investment throughout the country.' David Gillan, director of the Railway Industry Association.

'The document on my desk contains 158 empty pages. I cannot believe this is supposed to represent the future of British railways.' Glenda Jackson, Labour MP.

'It seems an odd aim of Conservative policy to replace railwaymen with thousands of civil servants, staffing a whole range of new bureaucracies. But that is precisely what the Bill envisages.' Brian Wilson, Labour transport spokesman.

'The creation of a competitive market on the railways is going to be stifled by an extraordinarily complex regulatory framework.' William James, railway law expert.

'Passengers are being taken on a journey into the unknown.' Maj Gen Lennox Napier, chairman of the Central Transport Consultative Committee.

'By declaring open season and letting any private buccaneer who wants to, bid for any bit of railway they fancy, the Government is deliberately allowing the disintegration of the network.' Nick Harvey, Liberal Democrat transport spokesman.

'This Bill could make BR worse and more expensive. We'll have at least five different government agencies and maybe 40 different private operators.' Stephen Joseph, Transport 2000.

'Government plans . . . ignore the need for investment, exacerbate the growing imbalance between road and rail funding and lack a coherent strategic plan for their integration within Britain's transport system.' Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

'As commuters struggle to work on overcrowded and expensive trains, ministers continue to press ahead on legislation which will not improve the service.' Jane Reeves, transport spokeswoman of the Association of London Authorities.

(Photograph omitted)

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