Rail objection

I strongly disagree with Colin MacLean’s view (Letters, 29 April) that closing the Waverley line was “disastrous”.

On the contrary, its retention would have cost taxpayers many millions by now.

The railway was built primarily to carry goods. Passenger traffic was far too low to cover costs. When most freight moved to the roads and car use rocketed there was no reason for its existence.

To extend a rail service from Gala to Carlisle would cost around £1 billion and involve permanent public subsidy for operation. It would traverse some of the most sparsely populated areas in Britain.

Who should pay and why? If such money is available there are certainly far better ways to spend it, such as on improving, repairing and maintaining roads.

There is already a double-track electrified link between Edinburgh and Carlisle, with frequent non-stop trains.

Few would choose to use diesel trains stopping several times and taking maybe three times as long.

It is true that rail passenger traffic will increase but only 
on routes within or connecting highly populated areas.

In rural ones services are lightly used and make heavy losses. I know of nowhere else in the world where a railway is being built, or proposed, through a sparsely peopled rural area.

The claim that rail service will bring major economic benefits to towns is dubious. Kilmarnock, Cumnock, Shotts and Cowdenbeath, long well connected by rail, are not exactly beacons of prosperity

The other places Mr Maclean thinks should have rail services are well served by buses, which the great majority would continue to use. These do not involve heavy public subsidies.

The government rightly wants train passenger to pay a higher proportion of costs so that fares will certainly rise.

John Munro

Buccleuch Street