Letter to the Editor: Last week, I travelled by train the 4½ hours from Truro to Gloucester without a hitch.
It was a joy. But finding out why the trains are often on strike is difficult.
The national press and TV don’t help, but the internet can.
Agreement between the three unions and 14 train-operating companies (TOCs) is devolved to England, Wales and Scotland separately.
The governments of Wales and Scotland own one TOC each; the other 12 TOCs are in England and are privatised.
Train drivers are mainly members of Aslef; rail controllers mainly TSSA; track and signalling workers and others mainly RMT.
The non-Tory Welsh and Scottish governments have let their TOCs negotiate with the unions to reach a below-inflation agreement on pay and conditions this autumn.
But the Conservative government of England has not allowed its TOCs a free-hand to reach a similar agreement.
No real progress has been made in England over many months, and hence the strikes.
But, if that is so, why have there been rail strikes in Wales and Scotland?
There is another company, Network Rail, which is responsible for safety of track, bridges, signalling etc across the whole of Great Britain.
It is owned by our Conservative government in London.
As with England’s TOCs, the government has not given Network Rail a free-hand to negotiate a deal.
The lack of this deal affects Wales and Scotland as well as England, resulting in strike action in all three countries.
You can’t run trains with unsafe track and signals.
In short, the non-Tory governments of Wales and Scotland allowed a deal to be reached, but England’s government hasn’t (except, of course, in London where the Underground trains are strike-free).
So, the Great Tory Omnishambles continues – and is speeding up all across our society.
Michael Heyling, Mitcheldean.