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Waterloo sunset


The shadow transport secretary (NCE 27 July) suggests that putting track and train into separate organisations has slowed down the decision-making process.

Forty-five years ago an 1871 road bridge over the main London railway outside Brighton station had to be rebuilt. I was then representing the borough engineer and with the consultant and contractor, Cleveland Bridge, met in the Southern Region (SR) district engineer's office in Brighton.

Cleveland explained its erection plan and programme saying that weekend possession between the last train on Saturday and the first train on Monday was not enough. Could trains to and from Brighton be diverted for two hours at each end of the possession? We all agreed. The SR district engineer phoned his chief civil engineer at Waterloo who said: 'Carry on with your planning - I will call you back.'

Twenty minutes later he did so, saying: 'I have explained the problem to the chief traffic manager here and he will rearrange the running schedules as you desire. Go ahead with your erection scheme.'

Could one get total agreement within 20 minutes today from several train operating companies using the same track?

Just two men at Waterloo had complete control of the whole region and similarly of the earlier Southern Railway.

JP Wilkins (F) Reigate, 24 Burnham Drive, Reigate, Surrey, RH2 9HD

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