LETTERS: Rail competition is no answer

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WE ARE indebted to the Independent on Sunday for exposing Stagecoach's "record of shame" (24 December). But I am amazed that, on the eve of the takeover of the first rail franchise, the serious press, and even Labour's transport spokesman, see the main problem as being the franchise's tendency to drive out competition and create monopolies. Judging from John Denham and Brian Wilson's comments, everything would be OK if Stagecoach could resist its megalomaniac impulses and be just one of several companies happily competing with one another.

As anyone who has followed "True stories from the Great Railway Disaster" will be aware, the root cause of most of the farcical aspects of privatisation has been the fragmentation of the network and the enforced introduction of competition. A private monopoly may be bad news, but to replace it with a plethora of competitors is not the answer. We need a monopoly - a publicly owned, democratically accountable one. Labour MPs should be shouting this from the rooftops - not echoing Tory claptrap.

Jim Grozier

Brighton, East Sussex