Letter: Running trains the BR way

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your business comment (24 July) claims it would take incompetence on a grand scale not to run rail franchises more efficiently and profitably than British Rail, even with smaller subsidies. That is demonstrably unfair.

John MacGregor, when Transport Secretary, wrote in 1994: "British Rail's record on productivity, service, safety and punctuality is impressive and it is known to run one of the most efficient railway systems in Europe".

In a parliamentary answer last week, the Transport Minister John Watts acknowledged that the eight franchises let so far will cost the taxpayer pounds l9m more in 1996/97 than if BR were still running them.

BR's downward pressure on expenditure produced a reduction of 5.7 per cent in unit passenger train operating costs in 1995/96, continuing a trend that has been established for many years.

JOHN K WELSBY

Chairman and Chief Executive

British Railways Board

London NW1

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