Letter: Oxford: to bypass or not to bypass

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The Independent Online
Sir: Sir William Hayter (Letters, 28 June) asks 'Can it be that the road- construction industry has some unhealthy influence on the Department of Transport? Or even the Conservative Party?'; and he contrasts dearth of investment in railways with lavish expenditure on roads.

While the department imposes by stealth an east-west 'strategic' road upon the Oxford green belt, the same body has permitted the mothballing of the railway between Bicester and Bletchley. The line should have been developed long ago as part of a 'strategic' route for passenger and freight traffic, but there is now a danger that the track will be lifted, because the Treasury and the department are simply not interested in the application to rail of equitable track and infrastructure costings.

The road lobby does indeed have unhealthy influence on the Conservative Party - from the top down. Recently the Prime Minister asserted that British Rail is 'deeply inefficient'. Yet the truth is that international comparisons prove our railways, starved of investment though they are, to be the most cost-effective in Europe (and therefore least deserving of privatisation). Could it be, rather, that at Westminster and in Whitehall there are persons in power who are deeply incompetent?

Yours faithfully,

GEORGE HUXLEY

Church Enstone, Oxfordshire

28 June

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