Readers have been criticising increasing rail fares and the quality of the services provided (Metro, Wed).
However, according to Rail magazine, we now have a railway carrying 1.5 billion passengers a year in 24,000 trains a day. These run at an average punctuality of more than 90 per cent, in train fleets that are about half the age of those in British Rail days at stations which are regularly refurbished.
Furthermore, there has not been a passenger fatality on our railways for six years. That kind of safety record is magnificent considering the density of traffic but it doesn’t come cheap.
Our rail safety management is second to none, including those countries so often held up as superior – France, Spain and Switzerland – who have suffered fatal crashes in the past few weeks.
All our safety systems are not only belt and braces but also have back-up and fail-safe technology. None of this can be done on a shoestring.
Rail travellers must ask themselves: do they want to travel in comfort, on time and expect to arrive safely or would they rather have ageing rolling stock, poor infrastructure and safety compromised by cost savings?
If they want the former, they have to prepared to pay for it and to think that re-nationalisation would change anything is to live in cloud cuckoo land.
Doug Fennell, Surrey
I recently wrote to Southeastern trains to complain about the all too common lack of communication between staff and passengers in the event of delays during my commute.
The reply informed me that one of the actions already taken in response to this common complaint has been to ‘equip staff with BlackBerries in order to provide accurate information in a more timely manner to passengers’. This is hardly a sound investment made with our ever-increasing fares, especially considering there has been no improvement in communication whatsoever.
Rather than equipping staff with state-of-the-art smartphones, a sounder investment might be rectifying faulty signals or even regularly cleaning and maintaining the filthy onboard toilets to appease its customers.
Paul George, Kent
I wish people would stop whining about the rise in fares. I am happy to pay a little bit more for my ticket because I know the network is well maintained and I get to my destination safely.
Let all those people who moan use a car for a year and then see how much time and money that costs them. I bet that will stop the complaints.