Privatisation of bus and rail services have been a failure

From: M E Wright, Grove Road, Harrogate.

THREE cheers for Tom Richmond in speaking the unspeakable heresy “Forget about competition, rail privatisation has not worked” (Yorkshire Post, January 9).

Neither has bus de-regulation and while Mr Richmond and the rest of we captive travelling public have known all this for years, politicians of every hue have demonstrated a craven reluctance to grasp this particular nettle.

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We have had 30 years (buses) and 20 years (trains) listening to endless droning of how “competition” and “the market” are the way to rectify decades of under investment, with fares continuing to soar and standards languishing way behind those of mainland Europe.

Despite this, we are told that the nameless, faceless ones in the boardrooms are receiving fare- and tax-funded bonuses – outrageous!

Mr Richmond presented us with a most interesting five-point plan. Is there any hope of his becoming Transport Secretary?

From: Carey Vessey, Hull.

ALTHOUGH agreeing with many of Tom Richmond’s points (Yorkshire Post, January 9), his three way split has inaccuracies to aid operation efficiently as suggested.

Network Rail, commonly known as Notwork Rail, has too much influence without accountability to be the force driving infrastructure improvements.

A final point. The GNER service was widely regarded as the best bar none for service, courtesy and standards (including refreshment) and did not become “unviable” at all. The problem was only with its parent company.

From: Andrew Lund, Ben Rhydding Drive, Ilkley.

I READ Tom Richmond’s column with particular interest, and I want to bring to your attention a further very significant issue about the cost of rail travel in the West Yorkshire area.

He notes that standard fares from Ilkley to Leeds have gone up by eight per cent.

That is bad enough. However, the Metro off-peak concessionary fare for seniors on the same route has risen by some 250 per cent, because the flat rate of 50p per single journey or £1 return, has been replaced by a variable amount roughly equivalent to half the standard fare which for an off-peak ticket is now £5.40.

And because the previous 50p concession allowed a senior citizen to travel between the extremities of the county, for the longer journeys such as Ilkley to Hebden Bridge or Pontefract the increase will be significantly more.

This was a valuable benefit for many older people on fixed incomes. The change has been kept very quiet, not surprisingly, and is yet a further example of how transport in West Yorkshire is the poor relation of many other parts of the country.

In West Yorkshire, we continue to be denied a decent rapid transit system and as the only integrated transport authority apart from Merseyside to have failed to secure funding for such, and now as the only authority to be punishing its senior residents with this outrageous increase, I have to conclude that “unfit for purpose” is an accusation that could well be levelled against Metro.

From: A Oldfield, Secretary, Huddersfield, Penistone and Sheffield Rail Users’ Association, Long Lane, Worrall, Sheffield.

THE annual above-inflation fare increases stem from the survival of a flawed and inefficient industry structure attributable to rail privatisation, which no party is prepared to address. The rail network is now carrying passenger levels last recorded circa 1928, so what has happened to the increased revenue generated? Why has it not apparently funded improvements and investment?

Why is the industry still maintaining an army of accountants, consultants and lawyers? What do they contribute? Why is such waste still accepted?

Would it not make more sense to have a cull of this trio and convert the expenditure into something offering real value for money, such as the long-overdue electrification of the Midland Main Line and Pacer replacement for the Northern franchise?

From: John Grice, The Close, Durkar, Wakefield.

ON December 31, I made a rail journey to Leeds using my pensioner pass and the return journey cost me £1.

This week the same trip will cost, I believe, £3.60, a rise of about 250 per cent – a big step up from the six per cent that is being quoted as the average train fare increase. I spoke to a retired couple making the same journey and the gentleman quickly calculated the £2 return fare for himself and his wife would be £7.20. Imagine his reply. To rub it in, Northern Rail announced pre-tax profits up by 34 per cent which appeared to come out at £40.1m.