LETTERS: A private line to nowhere

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The Independent Online
Not surprisingly, Sir George Young, the Transport Secretary, paints a very rosy picture of rail privatisation ("Rail: the minister's answer", 2 June). In reality, the brave new world is not half as wonderful as he makes out. The minimum service levels which private operators have to provide are not even as good as those currently operating. This means existing first and last trains could be axed, and service frequencies could be cut in the interests of profit. Already we are seeing cases where stations run by one operator do not display details of other operators' trains.

In the London area, there are rumours about the future of free rail passes for senior citizens, because the new private operators will not be obliged to continue honouring them. Most worrying of all, the new private operators have to keep their shareholders happy with decent profits while reducing the amount of subsidy they claim from the government. It is hard to see how they can achieve both those objectives while at the same time improving services and avoiding cuts.

Graham Larkbey

Railway Development Society

London N6

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