Timothy Garton Ash writes that it “should be a pleasure to take the train” (Why we need a new golden age of European rail, 27 October). Given that more than two years have passed since parliament declared an environment and climate emergency, one might imagine that the Department for Transport would prioritise initiatives which would let everyone access a platform.
Hundreds of our stations still lack any step-free access, and the DfT’s current policy of allocating funds over five-year periods means that progress towards full accessibility of the railways remains pitifully slow.
The announcement that city regions will receive billions for sustainable transport cash is very welcome, but it would make even more sense if, at the same time, “Access for All” funding was reappraised in order to enhance these developments.
After all, families struggling with pushchairs, and people with mobility issues would just love to be able to get on to a station platform.
Timothy Garton Ash is quite right. My husband and I, now in our 80s, have not flown since 2006 and have had many wonderful rail holidays, travelling round Germany and Italy, staying in interesting cities for a few days at a time. The journey to Sicily using the overnight train from Rome, and the journey to Albania using the ferry from Bari to Durrës stand out as special. We have missed our regular fixes of train travel these last two years and can’t wait to resume our journeys.
Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire
Reading Timothy Garton Ash’s article makes me think the government has got air passenger duty the wrong way round. If you need to go to Australia, it’s by air, but all domestic and many European destinations are easily reached by rail. It’s short-haul that should be penalised.