Private interests in public service

Christian Wolmar ("Did someone mention the N-word?", 30 October) is absolutely right to question the ownership and structure of the ailing railways, even if his criticism is milder than Labour's when in opposition. While he understandably focuses on Railtrack, questions should also be asked about the Strategic Rail Authority.

The SRA is purportedly being set up to bring some coherence to passenger services and to reassert the public interest in the way they are run. To date, it appears to be little more than an advocate for the franchising system and the companies that run it, and a sturdy defender of the privatised railway as a whole. This is perhaps unsurprising, given that, of the SRA's 16 members, only a minority have British Rail experience and fewer still a "Labour" connection. Most SRA members have an impeccable private sector background, at least three having been involved with the discreditable electricity and gas privatisations.

Robin Wendt
Chester