MAY I ask when the writer of your editorial (Herald opinion, December 3) last travelled on a Southern train?
I do not notice any ‘old rolling stock, inferior trains or dodgy tracks’ on my daily commute to London.
The trains are air-conditioned, comfortable and, given the number of stops, fast.
Apart from a few peak services operated with 1988-vintage Class 442 stock (albeit completely refurbished), all trains date from no later than 2003.
There are no permanent speed restrictions on the route to London, so the track cannot be described as “dodgy”.
I also note that you did not attack Stagecoach or Brighton and Hove buses for completely withdrawing their local services for several days (except for a limited Route 1 service) or the councils/highway authorities for not clearing the roads of all snow and ice or even Gatwick Airport for having the temerity to close due to snow on the runway.
The service to London could only be improved with major investment (flyover at Keymer, easing speed restrictions at Lewes and Polegate, resignalling Keymer-Eastbourne) and unless there is a huge increase in housebuilding in the area, it is unlikely to be viable financially to increase the number of trains.
Nobody likes fare increases, but I choose to live in this town and commute to London, so I don’t expect it to be free!
May I remind readers that the railways have long been a political football to be used as seen fit by Government.
And it was the Conservatives who foisted this botched rail privatisation on us in 1994.
BR ran the service on one-fifth of what they now cost, so direct your ire at them.
I do not see the French and Germans knocking their railway systems, but they believe in long-term investment. Southern are doing their best.
They are not perfect, but I am able to get to London today by train, a journey that would not be possible by bus or coach.
Dr Simon Jeffs