Letter: Freight trains forced to take the strain

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The Independent Online
TRAINLOAD Freight does indeed employ about 13,000 people. We also do run about 500 trains a day. However, it is an oversimplification to assume that it takes 26 people to run each train. A significant proportion of our staff are sub-contracted by other parts of the railway to run their trains - Railfreight Distribution, for example, employs no train drivers and relies on us to provide them.

There is of course, another more serious point to make from such data. The running of trains is not confined to the provision of drivers and signalmen. British Rail runs a self-contained transport network and is responsible not only for the planning, marketing and operation of train services and for the provision and maintenance of track but also has to take on a significant safety and regulatory role, for example, by managing access to the network for the many existing privately owned freight wagons. Serious commentators have appreciated that this needs to be taken into account when assessing the long term viability of freight on rail.

Leslie Smith

Managing Director

Trainload Freight

British Railways Board

London N1

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