Rail-sea connections

Sir - Dick Fearn is a rail manager held in high regard by his erstwhile customers in several parts of Britain. But his comments about Rosslare in his capacity as Chief Operating Officer of Iarnród Éireann (RG 5.05 p278) are depressing and disappointing.

He says 'the boat train concept is dead, people do not walk on and walk off ferries any more.' No, we don't, because in most cases we no longer can, and not for want of trying!

The classic rail-sea connection is being broken on all fronts at a rate of knots. The attitude today seems to be that ferries are for motor vehicles, foot passengers can fly. The process of disconnection has been driven partly by low-cost flights and partly by the fragmentation associated with privatisation. It is hardly an encouragement to use sustainable transport. On the Irish Sea the latest example is Cairnryan - handy for cars, but not for public transport. There is no longer any North Channel route with convenient rail connections on both sides.

Much the same is happening on the English Channel, but at least there we have Eurostar (for a price). Oh yes, of course there is usually a shuttle bus between ship and train for those that insist on this perverse behaviour. My last experience of this was between Dublin Port and the city centre a couple of years ago. I had 2 h between the booked ferry arrival and the departure of my train from Heuston. I made it with 5 min in hand, not to mention carrying the luggage on and off the bus, then on and off a taxi.

I paid extra to return on Stena from Dun Laoghaire; still a decent rail-sea connection, and long may it remain so.

Mike Crowhurst
Chairman, Railfuture,
Garforth, UK

When in Roma

Sir - I read with interest the articles about Roma's public transport in Metro Report. I have to say that Roma did not deserve to host the UITP congress as its public transport is insufficient and badly managed.

The heavy graffiti on the metro is never cleaned off and that on Met.Ro's line to Viterbo is the worst I have ever witnessed. The stations on the latter line have been modernised recently but are not maintained regularly - lifts and other facilities are permanently out of action. Neither do most stations have sufficient signage and information, if any. And like most public transport in Italy, free leaflets showing maps, ticketing, interchange facilities and timetables are conspicuous by their absence. There is much more work to be done in Roma than described, but most of it is of the basic type which is carried out routinely in most other European cities.

David Haydock
Douai, France