Letter: Rail freight network essential for trade

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article ('John MacGregor's bran tub', 15 July) stated: 'It is, without doubt, sensible to sell off the whole of the freight and parcels services in order for the residual BR and its franchisees to concentrate on passengers.' I disagree most strongly. The run-down of the freight facilities of BR has been concomitant with government policy of underfunding of the railways and encouragement of road transport.

As noted in an article in yesterday's paper, shipping freight over long distances by rail and the use of road transport for delivery 'to the door' is a lucrative market and BR's freight division is, it appears, in desperate need of funding for the modernisation it requires.

Such expenditure is, in the long-term, an investment, for with the imminent opening of the Channel link and the ease of access to European markets, a good nationwide rail network capable of handling container and wagon freight is essential for healthy, economic trade. This sort of planning should not be left to regional privatised freight companies, but requires central planning.

Yours sincerely,

ANDREW ROSS

Bristol

16 July

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