Letter: Dismal outlook for railways

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Sir: On Sunday, 23 March, my wife and I made our third attempt in recent weeks to catch the 18.03 from Emsworth (a thriving town on the main line between Chichester and Portsmouth) to London Victoria. As on the previous occasions, the train failed to appear and we had to make alternative travel arrangements.

What made the experience particularly dismal was the lack of information about the train we had hoped to catch. The station has no staff, no indicator boards and no public address system; intending passengers simply have to stand in the dark without any means of knowing whether a train is cancelled or merely delayed.

Whilst we waited in the deepening gloom, a group of local youths entertained themselves by climbing over the roof and dropping debris on to the rubbish- strewn platform. There was a profound air of neglect and desolation. Not surprisingly, we had few fellow travellers.

If the fate of Emsworth is typical of that of many small towns on today's privatised railway network, rail travel will continue to decline as passengers turn to their cars.


London W8