TRANSPORT: Benefits of privatisation

It was interesting to read Transport Matters (Berwick Advertiser, October 4), and it certainly deserves a response.

Friday, 19th October 2018, 6:55 am

In connection with the removal of guards from trains, the article suggests that it is a simple removal from the trains and that’s it.

There is no mention of the fact that a number of the train operating companies simply wish to replace the guard by another person in his/her place purely to assist passengers.

Mr Wylde’s article creates an incorrect situation among the public, which is not helpful either to the general public, nor to the train companies trying to keep costs, and therefore fares, down.

Perhaps the real problem here is the presumed wish of the unions involved to ensure that they do not lose either their membership numbers or their influence.

With regard to re-nationalisation of the railways, people tend to forget what the situation was like before privatisation.

There was no new rolling stock (the last ‘new’ trains were mainly the HSTs some 40 years ago); pacers (buses on wheels, as they became known); trains not as clean as they should be; no money available for upkeep of the infrastructure; no money for modernisation of the infrastucture; and branch lines being closed (Dr Beeching).

Many other problems could be added to the list.

What has happened since privatisation?

Money has been found to repair and upgrade major parts of the rundown infrastructure; vast quantities of new rollingstock has been ordered, a lot of which has already been in use for a considerable length of time by the train operating companies; and passenger numbers and freight traffic have both increased substantially to such an extent that the system is now running at almost capacity, with very limited paths available for any additional traffic.

On the other side of the coin, substantial new employment in the rail industry has been created, and is still increasing in the UK due to new, non-UK firms locating their manufacturing plants for railway stock in the UK, most of the new employment being skilled.

Continuing with re-nationalisation, Mr Wylde states that ‘a high proportion of people want the railways to be re-nationalised’, although he provides no details of the numbers who would wish this to happen.

Is he aware of some figures that may have been produced to justify the statement?

Name and address supplied