24 AUGUST 1985, Page 22

Go by coach?

Sir: We are pleased to see the Spectator recommend that its readers should no longer travel by rail (Leader, 10 August). Since most of the money needed to run the trains now comes in the form of subsidies of various types, it is not surprising that those operating them take little interest in the welfare of such members of the public as still choose to travel in this way. They would be happy to run the trains with no passengers, believing that governments will always provide them with the means to do so.

Railways are now a wholly uneconomic form of transport: but you are wrong to suggest that the only alternative is the car. Express coaches provide a comfortable service with air-conditioning, toilets, re- freshments and a hostess in attendance, all this without subsidy at fares often no more than a third those charged by British Rail. By all accounts those who operate the coaches are friendly and helpful; they have to be since their jobs are dependent on the goodwill of their passengers.

If we want public transport which will attract passengers from their cars by the quality and convenience of its service, all we need to do is to lift the rails from the existing routes. The rest can be left to the coach firms.

Angus Dalgleish

Chairman, Railway Conversion League, Shouston Hill, Ruxbury Road, Chertsey, Surrey