Letter: A future for the railways

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The Independent Online
Sir: If Madsen Pirie's polemic ('Running us off the rails', 16 August) against our railways represents the best of the Adam Smith Institute's intellectual firepower, there is cause for real concern about the standard of political debate in this country. Of course, the Railtrack/RMT strikes compound the difficulties that the industry faces as it reacts to the Government's ill-thought- out privatisation plans. Of course, in the short term people will find ways round the gross inconvenience caused by the strikes, but in the long term railways must represent a key element in this country's transport plans.

Elsewhere in the world, railways are being recognised as a safe, efficient, environmentally-friendly and convenient mode of transport for short and medium length journeys; they are being supported financially and are incorporated in the strategic plans for public transport of governments for the development and well-being of their countries.

Of course, we need to be rid of old fashioned trade union attitudes, just as we need to be rid of incompetent management. But our overriding priority must be long term national transport, environment and technology policies, of which, sadly, there is no sign at the moment.

Yours faithfully,


Chairman, Advanced Railway Research Centre

University of Sheffield


16 August