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

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The Independent Online
From Mr Bob Digby Sir: In suggesting ("Getting back on the rails"; leading article, 17 January) that "the railways ... have been managed appallingly for decades", you cast a sad reflection upon a state company that has for 15 years borne the brunt of investment and spending cuts, and for the past 40 years endured changing government whims.

It would be a shame if the great improvements brought to Inter-City travel by the High-Speed Trains, the electrification of the East and West Coast main lines, and investment in cross-country travel were ignored. The inauguration of Inter-City 125 trainsmade British Rail an internationally respected model for conventional rail management in the 1970s, ushering in as it did high-speed travel on conventional track.

It would do nobody any harm to remember that such investment took place prior to 1979, and that it is only since then that British Rail has been subject to comparison with international developments in Japan and France. That those two countries chose to rebuild a transport infrastructure with late 20th-century capital-intensive technology is a reflection of the priority of their respective governments. We, meanwhile, live with the consequences of ours. The management of British Rail cannot be held culpable for that.

Yours faithfully BOB DIGBY Kew, Surrey