Where were they?

I refer to the June 6 article on Mel Stride MP and his constituents presenting a petition against the closure of smaller stations on the Tarka Line (“Public object to planned Tarka Line station closures”).

This is a petition I totally support, as we must keep all stations open to serve the communities of North Devon.

But I wondered why, after being invited, there was no Nick Harvey MP, no NDDC councillors, not one person from North Devon Public Transport Users group and not one person from the Tarka Rail Association bothered to attend the “Save Our Railway” public meeting held at the Castle Centre, Barnstaple, on May 31.

There was a full discusion on the “McNutty Report”, aka the “Rail value for money study” – a report commissioned by Mr Stride’s government which calls for �260million in savings to be made.

Proposals include the closure of 750 ticket offices, driver-only trains, no guards or ticket inspectors on many trains, and at stations, reduced platform staff, ticket machines on platforms and cutbacks to save money.

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In order to pay out big dividends and bonuses to railway directors and shareholders at the expense of the rail-travelling public, we already have the most expensive railways in Europe.

I would like to know who is going to help, advise and support the vulnerable, the confused, the disabled and pensioners on train journeys if most of the railway staff are going to be sacked.

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Please could we have some sanity on our railways – and could we please have support from our elected MPs, councillors and those members of the rail-users groups. Is not one of them prepared to speak against the McNulty Report?

I urge everyone to write to their MPs and councillors to stop the madness of the McNulty Report, as already it is being implemented.

Shame on them for failing to turn out for the public meeting which saw members of the public putting forward positive suggestions to improve the Tarka Line.

You don’t see Germany, the richest country in Europe with the best railway in Europe, closing stations, cutting jobs or privatising their railways.

GR Parkhouse


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