Decent service

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Brian Monteith (Perspective, 10 August) rails against the possibility of renationalising our railway system. He seems to forget that our railways are increasingly run by foreign national companies.

When East Coast was run by a state company it was so efficient that thousands of us voted to keep it that way. But as we were mere customers our wishes were overridden by this ideology-driven government.

When we had British Rail we had an integrated rail system and we were passengers who had to be delivered safely and not customers who are never right. I could travel from Edinburgh to Manchester Victoria without getting off the train, by getting an Edinburgh-Liverpool train which linked up with a Glasgow-Manchester one at Carstairs Junction. They ran together to Preston where they separated.

At a later stage when the same journey involved several complex changes, I managed to board a Glasgow-only train at Preston.

I will never forget how well looked-after I was, when years before mobile phones, the Edinburgh section of the preceding train, which I had missed, was held specially for me at Carstairs, and the Glasgow train made an unscheduled stop so that I could get home that Saturday night.

There was also a lot of teasing about not letting me off at Carstairs Junction unless the other train was there for me, “because there is only one place to stay”.

A similar case of passengers really mattering in the days of British Rail is of my husband’s octogenarian aunt, who was so pleased to arrive at Waverley from Norfolk that she only realised that she had left her suitcase on the train when it was pulling out of the station.

It was taken off the train at Motherwell and returned to Waverley before I’d had time to go to the all-night Boots to buy her a new toothbrush. And that was in the days before the term “customer care” had even been imported from the USA.

Marina Donald

Tantallon Place

Edinburgh

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