Our rail service has changed ... and it’s not for the better

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Let the train take the strain - that was the slogan of an infamous 1980s advertising campaign for British Rail,

It starred none other than Jimmy Saville, which I still recall every time I fail to get a seat on an over-crowded commuter service.

Jim didn’t fix it for me, or the millions of others who rely on our national rail network to get from A-B.

Not that I blame the late Sir Jim. He wasn’t in charge – although if he was he couldn’t have done any worse.

I’ve been commuting from Falkirk to work in Edinburgh for almost 30 years.

Over the decades I’ve witnessed many changes to the service.

The view from the window being one. The number of houses along the route must have trebled. Where there used to be factories approaching Haymarket, there’s now flats.

The number of passengers using the train is growing every year. Today, it seems half of Falkirk travels to either Glasgow or Edinburgh to work.

And to think my friends told me I must be mad to consider commuting when I first told them I had found a job in Scotland’s capital.

Surely you’ll be moving, they asked. But a house in Edinburgh was out of my price range even then - not that I had any intention of flitting from Falkirk.

The kids were all at school and my husband was still working in the town.

The idea of spending almost a third of your day getting to and from work was once considered absurd. Now, it’s common practice for many.

There’s still a lot of big employers in the district, but nowhere near as many as there used to be.

People have to cast a wide net if they want to catch a job. When I was growing up, we lived precisely 300 yards from the foundry my father worked at.

No prizes for guessing what the biggest change in the railways has been - the cost of travelling. Ticket prices rise at an unacceptable rate every year.

In January, when my season ticket increased eight per cent in cost, I read that the Westminster government wants to reduce the amount it spends on running the rail network, with the costs being passed on to the passenger.

The UK already has the most expensive ticket prices in the world.

Railways are a public service. They can’t be run at a profit - that’s been proved ever since our railways were privatised.

I challenge a representative from Network Rail, ScotRail or the Association of Train Operating Companies to write to me, care of The Falkirk Herald, to try to justify the madness of our rail network. In my eyes, there is no rational reason for the way the network is run. No other country in the world is charging its people as much to travel by rail, especially when more and more of us have no other option.