Travel: Railing against an attack on

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The Independent Travel
BR MARK DORAN of Oxford angrily takes me to task for moaning about British Rail's lack of customer relations skills (Independent Traveller, 15 January) during a journey from Bath to Penzance disrupted by floods.

'It was ill-judged of you to take a gratuitous swipe at our national whipping boy just as it is entering its death throes. You are surely aware that BR is being closed down in its present form on 31 March to be replaced by a series of quangos and semi-private organisations. Railtrack will take over the infrastructure (including passenger information) while 26 separate train operating units will run the trains from 1 April, reporting to the Franchise Director and controlled by the Rail Regulator.

'With two operators competing for your custom between Bath and Penzance, the on-train staff might appear more helpful - but they will no doubt both blame Railtrack for delays like the ones you experienced. You in turn will no longer be able to blame BR for everything that goes wrong. (Why don't people blame 'British Roads' for delayed car journeys?)

'It would be more constructive if you were to devote your attention to the difficulties the new regime will bring to passengers. For example, discounted tickets issued by one operator might well not be available for return by another operator's trains. Only full-fare tickets will definitely be interchangeable. Miss the 'Wales & West' service from Penzance and you could face a hefty surcharge to come back on the 'Great Western' 125.'

Mr Doran says that 1994 is the Year Zero for Britain's railways, '. . . a brave new world of uncertainty and confusion: now is not the time, in the last few weeks of BR, to pick on existing shortcomings.'

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