LETTERS: Air travel and roads more efficient than rail? That's just pla in loco

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From Mr Alistair Grey Sir: I trust that Hamish McRae was voicing a purely personal opinion regarding the desirability of Great Britain's national railway system being dismantled. Like a Tory politician, he looks only at narrow financial criteria. ignoring cost-benefit, social and environmental data.

He compares railways in Britain with airlines in the United States, which is hardly relevant. British Rail's main competitor is the road system, which itself is subsidised from many sources, including taxpayers, local councils, the police and the health service.

When railway projects are appraised to the same cost benefit standards as roads, a fairer balance between the two modes may be achieved.

However, despite this negativity, Mr McRae may be surprised that new railways and stations are being opened. Has he recently been to Manchester, Sheffield, Cardiff, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Nottingham, Leicester or Birmingham?

Regards, A. GREY Workington, Cumbria 19 January