Trains overrated

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In the debate on the quality of Scotland’s rail services between Messrs Casely and McKenzie (Letters, 17 July), I think Mr McKenzie is overly generous in his praise for a railway which he sees as “vastly superior to anything we have had in the past 50 years”.

Yes, trains are generally faster and more frequent, and we have seen some very welcome reopening of lines and stations, and an ongoing electrification ­programme. However, most trains also have fewer carriages, and therefore fewer seats per train, minimal space for bicycles and heavy luggage, and poor or absent onboard catering.

Of greatest concern on many long journeys is toilet rationing, of which many of the train- operating companies in the UK are now guilty.

We have gone from two toilets per carriage in the trains of the 1960s to two toilets per train on many inter-city services in Scotland today. For journeys of well over 100 miles, this rationing and consequent intense use can result in total failure of toilet facilities.

Probably the worst offender, in my opinionm, is TransPennine, which operates trains from Glasgow and Edinburgh to Manchester.

On a 220-mile journey northwards to Edinburgh on Monday evening, 15 July, both toilets had failed within two hours and the train was forced to make an extended toilet stop at Carlisle Station. The unedifying sight of scores of Scotland-bound passengers running from the train to the station toilets was an appalling image of modern rail travel.

Gordon Casely is quite right to campaign for better quality trains for Scottish rail passengers.

Robert Drysdale

Primrose Bank Road

Edinburgh

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