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Railwatch 079 - April 1999
Railwatch - Can bus replace train? No!
By Trevor Garrod
More than 20 years ago, RDS campaigners published the book Can Bus Replace Trains? with the sub-title Or Will They Never Learn?
Rail replacement bus services of the 1960s and early 1970s had largely failed, usually attracting no more than 20 per cent of former rail passengers, and our book pointed out reasons why.
The Government of the day did take note, and the ideas were left on the shelf to gather dust, while a start was made on developing a new generation of diesel multiple unit trains for secondary services.
The idea of bus replacement resurfaced in the early 1980s, and RDS brought out a second book, Bustitution The case Exploded which updated the arguments. The threat to rural services receded again.
It has re-emerged in two guises proposals to convert certain lines into guided busways, and a statement by Transport Minister Glenda Jackson MP, apparently supported by certain train operators with bus interests, that buses or coaches could provide a better service than trains on some routes. RDS has already protested to the Minister and is preparing to campaign vigorously on both of these issues in the coming months.
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