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Immigration, not customer satisfaction, has driven growth Michael Robert’s article ‘Generating Growth’, (April 2011 issue) made interesting, if rather inaccurate, and biased reading. Comparing today’s privatised railway with the

latter period of British Rail is unfair. In the last few years of BR, The Profit Centres were very efficient and extremely well managed by excellent railway professionals like Chris Green, Ivor Warburton and Gordon Pettitt. InterCity became Europe’s only profitable railway without

government subvention for the period 1986-1993 and offered quality accommodation, high- class catering and reasonable fares.

Indeed Network South East, the south-east commuter ‘railway’ almost broke even for a number of years. BR initiated a vigorous marketing

campaign, using scarce resources, and was well placed to continue to be a viable nationalised institution. BR introduced the

highly efficient Class 158s, refurbished the HST fleet, provided quality catering on the WCML, re-organised the freight sector and brought in the Class 60s, mostly all within budget. Mr Robert’s assertion

that today’s growth may be attributed to ‘popularity’, new services, punctuality and ‘customer satisfaction’, should be challenged.

The major reason for driving growth has been, amongst others, unprecedented levels of immigration, swelling the population by millions over the last 15 years. Many immigrants initially are unable to buy cars and use public transport.

Open to interpretation

The statement that Southend Airport station opened in January 2011 is somewhat premature (‘Southend airport gets its own station’, April 2011 issue). The timetable changes in December 2010

provided extra minutes in schedules to cater for trains to stop there, but the expected opening in early 2011 never happened. At the time of writing the station is,

PAGE 12 MAY 2011

according to the airport website, still awaiting government approval before it can open, and a shuttle bus is being provided from the airport to Rochford station to connect with train services.

Ken Cropley Rochford Essex

The 10 per cent increase in population in recent years equates easily with a 10-plus per cent rise in rail usage. My experience, for the most part, in Manchester is dreadful overcrowding, delays and cancellations, uncomfortable rolling stock and a lack of decent catering. On a final note, it should be understood that privatisation has cost the taxpayer billions, much of which has been ‘overspends’ on capital projects and ‘extraneous’ costings in legal fees, contracts, preparing reports, and health and safety. Had BR been allocated a

fraction of these costs in 1995, Britain might well have had a premier European state railway system.

Malcolm Roughley Hale


East-west divide Issue 169 is an excellent read as usual. However, on page 6 your photograph is definitely

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