September 23: Our railways are the life-blood of this country

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From: Nigel F Boddy, Fife Road, Darlington.

RAILWAYS are a necessary public service. In 1960 when Harold Macmillan announced the railways should pay their way, he was wrong.

The Beeching cuts that followed damaged the opportunity for growth. The Queen reopened one part of one of the rail lines shut under Beeching on September 9. As a result of the Beeching cuts, our roads are overcrowded.

Our town centre shops are in decline. Our quiet suburban streets are now full of parked cars.

Children can no longer play there.

We import enormous quantities of oil and petrol.

We buy too many foreign cars. These are both to the detriment of our balance of payments.

We are far too tangled up in Middle Eastern politics because we rely too much on cars.

Obesity is at epidemic proportions. The East Coast Main Line returned a profit for the Treasury when there was no franchisee in place recently before this Government insisted the line should be offered for franchise again.

Ticket prices went up. This Government’s suggestion that Network Rail should be privatised is ideologically driven and politically reminds me of the poll tax fiasco.