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Railwatch 077 - October 1998

All I want is a rail ticket

By John Barfield

Amazingly in the age of the global village, it is getting ever more difficult to buy a ticket for international rail travel.

Many travel agents do not seem to be able to manage what should be a simple task.

The international and European Union committee of RDS was already looking into this problem before the matter was raised in the letters page of Railwatch.

Now the committee is compiling a database of travel agents who do a good job with international ticketing.

The starting point is members' responses to the appeal in Railwatch 76. If you can recommend a particular travel agent, please send details to me at 108 Berwick Road, London E16 3DS. Email: jwbarf@aol.com

Many of the problems arose with the way British Rail International was hived off with railway privatisation.

We have not really got over the shock of being told at our last meeting with BRI: "You will now have to talk to the individual operators and Eurostar about particular services."

The other main issue being dealt with by the committee is the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) which was mentioned briefly in Railwatch 76.

RDS is co-operating with other transport and environmental groups such as Transport 2000, Alarm UK, World Development Movement, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth to oppose what could be a "charter for exploitation of the environment", and the exacerbation of third world debt, in the interests of free trade and international investment.

Already we have made informal contact with the Local Government Association and the trade union movement but in particular with the World Development Movement which has recently set up an MAI coalition to bring the whole "secret deal out into the open" and ensure that the Government does not sign away our rights without a proper debate.

The coalition held a conference in London on 19 September and a parliamentary meeting is planned for 21 October. We are also urging associated organisations in Europe to support local campaigns against the MAI.

The municipal government of San Francisco is just one of the many organisations worried about the effects of the MAI.

We are also continuing our investigations into air-rail integration. This does not just involve the issue of rail access to airports and rail expansion flowing from Heathrow Express.

We plan fruitful talks and action with the newly formed Internation Air Rail Organisation.

We have also now received a comprehensive response from Labour transport spokesman Mark Watts MEP to issues we raised with London East MEP Alf Lomas.

We are considering a new approach to the European Commission in Brussels on the future of Trans-European Networks and the problems of international ticketing.

We continue to foster relations with the Fast Tracks to Europe Alliance, ROVER (Holland), FNAUT (France) and Pro-Bahn (Germany) and other organisations throughout the world.

Note: contact details (postal and email addresses, along with telephone numbers) in old editions of Railwatch out of date. Click CONTACT US for latest contact details.

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