Letter: Less track means more tears

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The Independent Online
HOPES for a new 'golden age' in passenger rail transport depend largely on the commitment of the rail companies to their product. The leaking of freight business through BR's rejection of lines working at less than full capacity reflects an utter lack of ambition and initiative but it is a trend already apparent in passenger lines as well. While attempting, some would say navely, to travel cross-country from Banbury to London last Sunday, I discovered that the timetabled service had been cancelled due to 'lack of demand' and that this was a common occurence, allowing engineering work to be performed.

My twice-yearly trips to the UK seem always to be punctuated with such problems, and the lamentable state of the British railways appears all the worse when viewed from France. Next time I shall, reluctantly, hire a car.

The rail companies must know that passengers will only be won back through the availability of frequent, efficiently- run services. Such a programme will indeed require long-term and massive investment - precisely what a profit-orientated private company can ill-afford.

It is rather the stuff of governments - governments with vision and foresight. Unfortunately this Government has wiped its hands of all responsibility.

Dr Stuart Macgregor

Paris, France