Although we here in the east would hardly be affected by the proposed takeover by First of the West Coast mainline franchise, I do share the concerns raised by many about the decision.
Our experience in East Lothian with the local bus operations of this conglomerate does pose questions about its competence and management philosophy, although generally its rail operations in Scotland are of a high standard.
What is more worrying, though, is the whole ethos of the privatised railway which seems to be a plaything for private industry and indeed foreign state-controlled railways.
The recent East Coast mainline fiasco, where the successful bidder for the franchise could not deliver, should have been a wake-up call for the government.
If the West Coast goes the same way, which Sir Richard Branson, with all his experience, thinks it will, then I suspect that the way railways are organised in the UK will have to be re- examined, and not before time.
I don’t seek a return to the old British Rail with all its faults, but a system run for private profit whereby one group of companies owns the trains and other companies run them on tracks controlled by yet another organisation all within the purview of government seems a nonsense.
There must be a better way and, I must add, one where trains and buses are not required to be in competition with each other but form part of a sensible, integrated approach to public transport.
Musselburgh, East Lothian
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Weather for Edinburgh
Monday 20 May 2013
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