Letters November 4: Whether new or old, we need more trains

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Have your say

From: Laurence J Soden, Far lane, Kettlewell.

MUCH as I support The Yorkshire Post’s campaign for better trains in the North, I would urge readers to be wary of what they wish for. New trains are not necessarily better trains. In fact it could be argued that the design of new rolling stock is to maximise the profits of the operating companies rather than the comfort of the passengers.

Two journeys I made recently demonstrate this. The first from Skipton to Carlisle on one of the truly dreadful class 158 multiple units. Seating is cramped, luggage space is minimal, there one toilet for two packed coaches of passengers, and ventilation is non-existent because none of the windows open.

If anyone might be foolish enough to think these lightweight units make for quicker journeys you would be wrong.

An article in the Railway Magazine states that in 1952 the Thames-Clyde Express weighing 320 tons hauled by a steam engine could complete the journey from Leeds to Carlisle in under two hours while current trains take at least two hours 30 minutes. So much for progress.

My second journey was from Carlisle to Barrow on one of Northern Rail’s new old trains. Short of rolling stock, Northern has drafted in 50-year-old locomotives and 40-year-old coaches. What a difference in comfort. Some 64 people per coach seated at tables which are level with the windows, a toilet per coach, windows which have sections which open to allow ventilation and none of the racket associated with multiple units because the locomotive is at the front. Journey times are only slightly longer due to the need to ensure the slam-to doors are properly closed.

In essence it is not more new trains, we want just more trains. Good luck with your campaign.

From: Rachel Taylor, Steep Lane, Sowerby, Halifax.

I KNOW that George Osborne stood in front of lots of steam engines at the National Railway Museum to announce the National Infrastructure Commission but your Editorial headline of “Full Steam Ahead” does look a little outdated (The Yorkshire Post, October 31). “The wires are coming” would have been better.

Back bill for low cost drugs

From: Susan Dawson, Alllerton Bywater, Castleford.

ON Friday, MPs will have the chance to support an important piece of legislation that could benefit hundreds of thousands of patients across the UK. The Off-patent Drugs Bill would improve access to low cost, effective treatments for a range of conditions – from breast cancer to multiple sclerosis – and I would urge our local MP to support it.

The Bill would ensure that drugs that have fallen out of patent, but have since proved effective for clinical uses outside of their original licence, are routinely available on the NHS. With these drugs often being very low cost, it makes economic as well as clinical sense for them to be more widely available.

Backed by the UK’s largest breast cancer charity, Breast Cancer Now, along with a host of other charities including Prostate Cancer UK, Alzheimer’s Society and Bloodwise, the Bill needs 100 MPs to vote in favour to take it to the next stage. With just days left, more work needs to be done to secure support.

As well as calling on our MP to back this Bill, I would ask others to add their support by visiting breastcancernow.org/unlockdrugs.

Cuts hit the self-employed

From: Ian Traynor, York.

I HAVE been heartened by the large volume of correspondence from your readers on tax credits, and I congratulate you on deciding to give so much space to letters about this issue.

However, there is one aspect which has hardly been touched on – the effect on self-employed people. Supporters of the cuts, backing George Osborne, have tried to defend the policy by pointing out the mitigating effect of the cuts through the proposed increase in the minimum wage. But this will have no effect on self-employed people, many of whom (from my personal knowledge) work in caring professions, on low incomes, and are currently in receipt of tax credits. To them, the concept of a minimum wage has no meaning or impact. To them, the effect of the cuts is completely negative.

Matter of public record

From: Claire Randall, Leeds.

THERE is a debate behind the scenes at the Leeds trolleybus inquiry which will not go away. At the pre-inquiry meeting last year, I asked if an audio recording or video stream would be available. Councillor John Illingworth also supported this request and put it to Leeds City Council. I asked the inspector if it would be acceptable for the public to make recordings, and I was told yes.

When the inquiry began Coun Illingworth informed me that the council claimed it was too expensive and that no recordings would be made. It is my understanding that this lack of official recordings or transcripts has been drawn to the attention of Greg Mulholland, MP.

Certainly it is unsatisfactory that there should be no official public record of proceedings which ran to 72 days over six months and cost Leeds taxpayers several million pounds.