Recorder letters: Train fares, volunteers, EU rights and diabetes


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Rail fares are considered some of the dearest in Europe. Picutre: GETTY IMAGES/STOCK PHOTO/MARIOGUTI

Our train tickets are most expensive across Europe

Ian Sinclair, McGrath Road, Forest Gate, writes:

Robert Rush asserts “it’s a fact” there was “terrible time keeping” when the British railways were nationalised (‘Train letter was perfectly timed’ May 31).

This seems to run counter to an August 2016 editorial in the Observer newspaper, which noted that although “Safety and punctuality … have improved vastly since the nadir of 2000 when the network ground to a near-halt in the wake of the fatal Hatfield crash” this “improvement was only possible because the then operator of the rail system, privately owned Railtrack, was replaced by a state-controlled entity, Network Rail.”

The Observer continues: “Billions of pounds of state funding has been pumped into Network Rail, through grants and debt, with a noticeable improvement in services as a result.

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Any train operator pointing to increased passenger numbers, improved punctuality and a sea-change in safety since 2000 should be thanking, therefore, the taxpayer, not the private sector.”

Mr Rush goes onto argue the cost of travel is cheap on the privatised railways.

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Again, this seems to be contradicted by the evidence. Summarising the findings of an Action for Rail report, in January 2017 the Independent newspaper noted UK “rail passengers are spending six times more on fares than their peers in Europe - with 14 per cent of their income being spent on monthly season tickets… significantly higher than the 2pc seen in France, 3pc in Germany and 4pc in Spain”.

Though customers can often get cheap deals if they purchase their tickets in advance, in 2011 the Full Fact website confirmed the Action for Rail’s results, finding “In general, UK train fares are higher than” fare in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Scout volunteers a massive help

Anita Rani, Scout Ambassador, writes:

Volunteers’ Week is June 1-7 and what better time to celebrate our brilliant volunteers?

Here in Newham we have hundreds of incredible volunteers in Scouting helping young people have fun, experience new adventures and learning skills for life.

We have volunteers from all backgrounds and they often give their time on a flexible basis, supporting us around work and family commitments.

I want to say a huge thank you to each and every one – you are helping young people look to the future with optimism giving them the practical, character and employability skills they need to succeed.

But nationwide, we still have 50,000 young people waiting to join, so we need your help.

As a Scout ambassador I know the benefits of volunteering first hand. Giving a little time and enthusiasm for something you believe in not only supports your community but makes you feel great too.

Giving your time is known to be one of the key factors in wellbeing – so do yourself a favour and try it; you’ll use your skills and learn new ones.

Thank you and best wishes to volunteers, past present and in the future!

Don’t blame us for EU rights row

Will Podmore, name and address supplied, writes:

EU leaders have refused to settle the issue of citizens’ rights, saying ‘no negotiation before notification’.

They have refused to guarantee these rights unless we first accept the continued legal authority of the European Court of Justice.

The EU is imposing conditions, not the government.

Know diabetes and how to fight the condition

Sir Steve Redgrave, writes:

November this year marks the 20th anniversary of when I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

Having been at four Olympics, I thought my chances of competing in another one were non-existent but I quickly learned from medical professionals that the condition can be managed.

Having said that, reaching my fifth podium wasn’t straightforward.

Diabetes remains a huge health crisis and it’s on the rise. About 4.5 million people in the UK are living with diabetes, and 11.9 million in the UK are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

That’s why I’m really keen to make more people aware of the work Diabetes UK does.

Their ultimate vision, which is one I share, is for a world where diabetes can do no harm.

They would love to have support for Diabetes Week which is taking place from Sunday, June 11 to Saturday, June 17.

The theme this year is one which is close to my heart, ‘Know diabetes. Fight diabetes’. The aim is to raise awareness of the great work the charity does to help people know their diabetes, and together we take on the fight which the challenges of diabetes present so that we can live to our full potential.

During Diabetes Week, the charity would like to encourage people with the condition to get in touch and share their knowledge and experience, to help and inspire others. What have you learned about diabetes which has made a difference for you? Help Diabetes UK fight for better care, more research and less stigma.

Do please get in touch with the charity by visiting our website to find out how you can get involved and more about the condition.

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