LETTER: Rail is better privatised

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I am compelled to write in opposition to the apparent increasingly band wagon supporting re nationalisation of the railways.

Epitomised by the pre-arranged publicity and photo call of Andy McDonald shadow secretary of state for transport together with his followers as featured by you in last week’s Mid Sussex Times.

I have been commuting from Haywards Heath and Victoria stations since 1971, therefore I feel my opinions and experiences are expressed with a degree of credibility.

In reality, travelling when the service was state owned by British Rail was undertaken on trains which were most often dirty, noisy, overcrowded and potentially extremely unsafe with passenger operated “slam doors” I was guilty myself of occasionally boarding while the train was in motion. Consequently Baroness Jones supporting the bring back campaign when her Green party purporting to be the platform for improving environmental, and health and safety issues appears to me to be totally discredited.

Both my commuting stations were regularly manned by too many staff personnel huddled in conversation often seemingly oblivious to passenger presence and if approached for information reacted with an unwillingness to be helpful. In a lighter vein but nonetheless with some seriousness I mention the staleness and curling up at the corners of the famous British Rail sandwiches! Thank havens for the now privately owned eateries and coffee outlets. The enormous improvements to all the points I mention has only materialized by privatisation and reflect the huge financial investment train companies have made. However, I cannot deny as I have myself been a passenger “victim” of the quite appalling and shameful rail service Southern have provided throughout this year. It is inexcusable that both the government and unions have failed disgracefully to resolve the dispute, but one which has been truly unprecedented during the years of privatisation.

However the delay – repayment scheme proves Southern and other franchises are in fact accountable which I do not believe would ever be the case within the realms of rail nationalisation. Lastly I would like this opportunity to record my appreciation to all the Haywards Heath station staff including the ticket office who by their helpfulness and continued informative demeanour epitomize privatisation!

Glenn Lyons

Dallas Lane, near Lewes

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