YOU are right to highlight in your leader the fact that "the UK has the highest train fares in Europe, with some UK tickets almost 10 times the price of equivalent fares on the Continent" ("Rail passengers deserve better", The Herald, January 3).

It was the late rail strategist Sir Wilfrid Newton who cannily observed that when heading London Underground, his job was to transport six million commuters "who don't really want to travel, at a time they don't want to leave, to a place they don't want to go to ... in conditions they find uncomfortable, and at fares they think too high. And that's on a good day."

Sir Wilfrid's remarks transport themselves seamlessly to our Scottish scenario, where the same applies, but with two added failings: the same suburban trains cater not just for commuter traffic but for what in any other nation ought to be flagship long-distance services; and Scotland's fares system is labyrinthine in the extreme.

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To these ends, the faceless and apparently unaccountable Transport Scotland has made no public utterances regarding when or how it will rid Scotland of the scandal of trains demonstrably unfit for long-distance use. No replacement programme has been announced, far less any suggestion of what facilities replacement trains might offer.

Nor has Transport Scotland publicly moved to end the outrage of unfair fares, whereby it is frequently cheaper to purchase tickets from A to C by asking for tickets A to B, and then B to C. While using "split ticketing" largely remains the province of railway anoraks and those in the know, the existence of split ticketing serves to penalise far too many of us regular long-distance travellers.

Gordon Casely,

Westerton Cottage,