Readers' letters: Rail chaos highlights loss of connectivity

ScotRail commuters’ current suffering also reminds us of the lack of fast reliable rail transport across the UK.

Travel times and choice have worsened over the last 20 years. I used to travel to London weekly at the turn of the century boarding the 0600 from Waverley and alighting at Kings Cross before 10am.

Now, according to ScotRail, the fastest train is about 4 hours 20 minutes, with an average journey time of about 5 hours.

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It’s far faster now to take one of the 20 or so flights a day from Edinburgh Airport to London airports, with fast connections to central London it can be up to two hours quicker.Air travel has accelerated internationally while rail infrastructure has stagnated since British Rail privatisation.

LNER celebrate the arrival of Azuma to Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland, but travel times are lengthy

Edinburgh Airport currently boasts 144 destinations in 36 countries. I want to get to places like Manchester, previously a flight time of about 45 minutes but now over 3 hours on a train.

Similarly Norwich, a flight previously of about an hour but now 5 hours 41 minutes at best by rail with two changes.

Edinburgh Airport has still not replaced the previous FlyBe routes, consequently failing to serve the business and leisure community to England outside London, Birmingham and Bristol, concentrating on lucrative European routes.

Instead, commuters are forced to use the largely Victorian rail infrastructure where journey times continue to get slower or jump in their cars and pollute the planet.

Internally Britain is less connected now than 20 years ago. Indications here in Scotland suggest no improvements any time soon.

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

All right, Jack

I am sick and tired of these hypocrites who scream "socialism" like the worst reflexive Americans the moment this British government adopts any measures designed to alleviate the condition of the financially less fortunate members of society.

At the same time they insist the supposed solution to our ills is cuts in direct taxation - which surprise, surprise, just happens to affect mostly the better off.

In order words, they want "socialism" too - just the sort that lines their pockets instead. Their platitudes of "freedom" and "fiscal responsibility" mask the appalling selfishness of a generation which long ago swapped the Union Jack for "I'm All Right, Jack!"

In Jubilee week, it is long overdue some took a long hard look at what sort of nation we've become - especially as the nation we've done so much to copy these last four decades - the USA - has become the world's greatest basketcase where school shootings are now the routine result of a broken society.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone

Budget deficit

The Institute of Fiscal Studies guesstimates of a £3.5 billion Scottish budget deficit by 2026/27 (Scotsman 28 May) should be seen in the light of the £1 billion a year cost of helping those suffering the most from the cost of living crisis caused by failed UK government policies on Brexit, Covid and energy supply.

£4.5 billion of Rishi Sunak’s windfall tax comes from Scotland’s North Sea but still less than Norway regularly taxes the oil and gas companies without any drop in investment.

Friday’s Brent Crude Oil price was over $117 a barrel for a commodity many prominent Unionist experts told us in 2014 would be worthless by now.

Those Better Together experts also promised us lower energy bills if we stayed in the UK.

With Scotland’s vast natural resources and renewable energy potential, rather than facing years of austerity as part of the UK, we should have the courage of running our own affairs and aspire to emulate the much higher standards of living, including much better pensions, enjoyed by Denmark, Norway, Finland and Ireland as similar sized independent northern European countries.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh

Funding gap

SNP profligacy was bound to catch up with it in the end. (‘Warning of huge cuts as Scotland faces £3.5bn funding gap’, Scotsman, May 2).

The claim that Scotland was the "lowest taxed" area in the UK, which was always a somewhat contrived one, will now be severely tested .

Raising taxation on lower paid workers will be well nigh impossible given the current cost of living crisis and taxing higher paid workers who already pay more is unsustainable

Cutting services will be a beacon of obvious failures after 15 years of SNP rule. It seems that the SNP might have to finally be "transparent" and admit it is all going wrong.

This also brings into even sharper focus just how "independence" is going to be paid for. Going cap in hand to Westminster for more money would finish that off too. SNP "spin" will not solve this problem.

Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

War crimes

I find it difficult to witness the situation unfolding in Ukraine as it plays out in front of our eyes, thanks to 21st century communication systems sending us images and minute-by-minute updates on the devastation and sheer brutality being inflicted on civilians by Russian troops.

More than 30 leading legal scholars and genocide experts have signed a report accusing the Russian state of violating several articles of the United Nations Genocide Convention.

Mass killings of civilians appear to be directed by Russian top officials, who use dehumanising language to describe Ukrainians as “bestial”, and “filth”.

When an army is encouraged to perceive civilians in those terms, all restraints on moral, humane behaviour are cast aside, and they become a murderous force, as we have witnessed.

The Russian troops have also caused the destruction or severe damage of 250 museums and institutions in Ukraine and been accused of the theft of an estimated 2000 artworks.

Yet Russian’s foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has accused western countries of waging a “total war” on Russia, and its people and culture. There will be more of this self-justification as the war unfolds.

Carolyn Taylor, Broughty Ferry

Sunak’s strategy

“See what I did there”, said Rishi Sunak to his pals.

He could have done what France has done and capped all the energy prices.

Instead he invented (again) lots of money to give to the millions of people facing horrendous increases in their electricity and gas bills.

They will then give all this money to his friends the multi-billionaire energy companies. Job done.

Dave McEwan Hill, Argyll

Forbes favours

I am grateful that government spending per head in Scotland is greater than that in England. In an ideal world we should all be equal, of course, but as this is in our favour then let’s enjoy it.

However, with a projected deficit in Scotland’s finances, we might be forced to live at a level closer to that in England.

Of course, the impact of this can be minimised by cutting our spending or by raising taxes (or both). The latter surely cannot be an option here, given the SNP’s mocking of the Chancellor for raising taxes at a time when the cost of living is hurting?

So, will Kate Forbes save us from this option – and from the Workplace Parking Levy at the same time?

The SNP might be best placed to expose the financial reality of independence now while protecting us all from tax increases on top of cost of living misery.

Kate Forbes has always suggested she has all the answers. That might soon be put to the test.

Ken Currie, Edinburgh

Pauper street

I am fortunate enough to have recently returned from my first post-Covid trip to continental Europe.

My misfortune,however, was to hit Princes Street early on a Friday evening.

The delight of my holiday was soon dispelled by the sight of people sleeping in shop doorways, the usual beggars and vagrants stumbling around and the unedifying sight of anti-social juveniles taunting the police

This on top of the dilapidated state of perhaps the most iconic street in Scotland brought me crashing back to earth after my trip

One wonders what the tourists must make of this unpleasant spectacle.

David Edgar, Biggar

Council coalition

Mary Thomas totally missed the point, as did an SNP MSP the day before, on how Labour worked out a deal with Lib Dems and Conservatives to control Edinburgh Council (Letters, May 28).

She has to be aware that two Unionist parties were the obvious choice for a coalition. Why would Labour want to work with SNP and Greens whose sole existence is to break up the UK?

I would also like to remind Mary Thomas that there are many villages, towns and cities in Scotland that have coalition councils. Indeed, the last term at Aberdeen City Council the majority Conservative councillors did a deal with Labour which unfortunately gave too much power to Labour leader Jenny Laing and her councillors and left a significant number of disappointed voters.

SNP and their supporters have a serious problem with democracy unless it's to benefit the SNP and that's not being democratic.

Mary Thomas will now appreciate how it feels as SNP are allowed into power at Scottish and general elections, not because of a majority share of votes, but because the Unionist vote is always split into three well established and long-standing Unionist parties.

T Lamb, Aberdeen

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