YP Letters: Grayling’s case against rail is flawed

Many people feel Transport Secretary Chris Grayling's rail strategy is flawed. (PA).
Many people feel Transport Secretary Chris Grayling's rail strategy is flawed. (PA).
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From: William Wallace, (Rt Hon Lord Wallace of Saltaire).

Chris Grayling’s justifications for shelving electrification across the north (The Yorkshire Post, September 23-23) don’t make sense. He states that electrification will only be introduced ‘where it has benefits to passengers’. But how will those benefits be measured, and by whom?

I am lucky in living on the Leeds-Skipton line, where electric trains offer a fast and smooth service; partly financed by European Development Fund loans, I understand.

When I travel to Harrogate or Todmorden the contrast in reduced comfort and speed is clear. Faster and more frequent trains across West Yorkshire and the Pennines would benefit the entire region.

Track and signalling improvements will help meanwhile, but the lighter weight and faster acceleration of electric trains are also important to pulling our towns and cities together.

Rail electrification has now become standard across the London region. It should become standard for all heavily-used lines across the North. But the Conservative government doesn’t seem to think the economic development of northern England matters, and the Northern Powerhouse concept is fading.

From: Natalie Bennett, Sheffield Green Party.

You report Chris Grayling defending the government dropping of plans to electrify the East Midland train line and buying “bi-modal” diesel-electric trains by comparing it to a family buying a hybrid car (Chris Grayling denies North-South divide in transport spending as he speaks to Yorkshire leaders, September 23)

But the Transport Secretary’s comparison is false on many levels. First, the average time a car spends on the road is 13.5 years. We should be thinking of trains serving us for many decades. We’re still enduring the Pacer trains four decades after their introduction. This is a decision on an entirely different timescale to a car purchase.

Second, for many car drivers, the infrastructure isn’t in place for them to make the individual decision to buy an electric car. They can’t themselves install a network of charging points on motorways, nor a point on the lamp-post outside their terrace so they can charge up at home. The government, however, can (and should) be installing the train infrastructure (and for cars).

Finally, electric cars are still new and developing – not nearly enough are made for everyone to buy one. There’s no shortage of electric train makers; their product has been standard in most of the developed world for decades.

As for the figures, IPPR North ably defends them in your report, but readers don’t really have to go into the detail. They just have to compare a train journey, for example, from Halifax to Sheffield to a similar cross-London or South East journey. Look at the grand scale of the new Reading station, or visit the stunning tunnels and new stations of soon-to-open London Crossrail, and you can see where the money’s going.

Ryanair’s rapid descent

From: Dai Woosnam, Woodrow Park, Scartho, Grimsby.

Daily, the Ryanair fiasco becomes more and more an incredible mess. Methinks there is a lot more to this story than we have been told.

A large tranche of pilots going to Norwegian Air, and the mix up in the holiday rota, is – as an explanation – only scratching the surface.

Could Michael O’Leary be related to Gerald Ratner by any chance? And will confidence in Ryanair go the same way as confidence in Ratner’s?

Warped priorities

From: Peter Hyde, Driffield.

There is an old Yorkshire saying that “There is nowt so queer as folks”. I think that the saying is more appropriately applied to politicians. How can we waste so much money in foreign aid and subscriptions to the EU and leave our NHS, police and many other services in need of funds to work efficiently?

Not enough doctors, police officers, immigration officers and customs officers but we can still send money to China to help people stop smoking.

Talk about lunatics running the asylum. No chance, they are too busy running the country.

Sweet ideal of world peace

From: Mrs MW Whitaker, Harswell.

Indeed the Great War ended in 1918. That was when “Jelly Babies” came into our sweet shops, but at that time these sweets were called “Peace Babies”.

They were to represent the hope of World Peace uniting all Nations, therefore there were no green or purple “babies”.

The concept of “little green men”, aliens and so forth had yet to come.

Cable is voice of reason

From: B Murray, Sheffield.

Thank goodness for Vince Cable, he seems to be the only person talking sense in the Brexit debate.