ES Views: Is Grayling right to suggest removing first class seats?

Transport Secretary: Chris Grayling has proposed to remove first class seats from trains: REUTERS

It is disappointing that, having ruled out handing parts of the Southeastern franchise to Transport for London, the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is now copying the worst aspects of TfL’s proposals.

As a regular user of Southeastern, I cannot agree that the franchise has been “dogged by problems”, as you claim in your leader [“Classless trains”, Comment, March 14]. While there is obviously room for improvement, services are generally comfortable, fast and reliable.

Contrary to popular belief, taking out seats does not increase capacity. It has already been widely tried and just results in more delays as the extra standing passengers end up blocking doors. Likewise, the proposal to remove direct services will be a disaster for passengers.

The Transport Secretary should not try to fix what has worked well; all we need are extra carriages and more services where possible.
Robert Munster

I do for once agree with Chris Grayling about removing first class seats from our commuter trains [“Minister: Axe first class on commuter trains”, March 14]. This is a very outdated and underused fare on commuter trains in the south, as you get the same seats and no physical benefits.

Peak-hour trains are always so overcrowded that most drivers declassify first class at the drop of a hat. But this does not go far enough. The franchising system is failing everyday commuters. Southern, Thameslink and Southeastern are all prime examples of these failures.

Mr Grayling should put his political differences aside and reconsider the Mayor’s plan to run suburban services.
Oliver Green

So Chris Grayling’s latest wheeze is to fit rail carriages with fewer seats, on the basis that each of us occupies less floor space if standing than we do when sitting down. Such a policy would represent a particularly serious imposition for passengers who are elderly, disabled or pregnant.

Along with Mr Grayling’s refusal to insist that each train carries a safety-critical member of staff in addition to the driver, his proposal reveals once again his determination to discriminate against those passengers who are already among the most vulnerable.
Francis Prideaux

I would welcome the Transport Secretary’s proposals to reduce seats on commuter routes.

Most travellers are able to stand for 30 minutes twice a day, provided there are enough rails or overhead straps to hold onto. Not only would it increase capacity on overcrowded services, it would also benefit the majority of commuters who spend most of the day sitting at their desk.
R Foreman

Brits abroad also need clarification

Much has been written about the concerns of EU citizens living in Britain after Brexit. As a British expat in Norway, it is just as worrying for Brits living abroad.

It was a shock to see the Lords’ proposed amendment rejected, especially as it was claimed that leaving the EU would make no difference to people who have residence permits in other countries within the EU/EEA.

Those I have spoken with are anxious about their homes and jobs, and this uncertainty must not be allowed to drag on. If we are going to be thrown out of our adopted countries, we deserve to know well in advance.

It is essential that governments give this matter top priority. It affects the lives of many people all over Europe who are feeling unsettled right now.
Margaret Ellebye

Scottish referendum is just a distraction

As another Scot in London, I say well done to G Fox [Letters, March 14] for speaking out against the SNP’s blinkered politics.

London also voted to Remain but Sadiq Khan has not demanded a referendum, despite Brexit being far more challenging for the city’s economy. This is just another example of the SNP’s tunnel vision. It is a blatant attempt to distract Scots from their failings in office.

It is time for Ms Sturgeon to stop indulging in divisive diversions.
Dr Alastair Noble

Give lesser-known authors a chance

Cara Delevingne announcing her latest venture as a novelist is something I wish her well with [March 14].

However, as an independent writer who also works in a full-time job, I find it frustrating that celebrity status seems to automatically secure a publishing deal.

Admittedly, some indie books are bad, but there are also many unread treasures just waiting to be read. So please give those that warrant it, who don’t resort to ghost writers, a chance to shine where rightly deserved.
Stephen Harding

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We must switch to electric vehicles

As was revealed in your article [“Delivery vans emit pollutants ‘up to 20 times legal limit’”, March 14] delivery vans are one of the most significant contributors to air pollution in London.

With 42,000 light commercial vehicles (LCVs) entering the congestion zone every day, and with one LCV polluting at least as much as nine passenger cars, urgent action is required now.

However, delivery vans also represent the low-hanging fruit in terms of switching to electric, given that commercial fleets are not dependent on third-party charging infrastructure — the most significant hurdle to introducing electric vehicles for mainstream use.

As somebody who has founded a company that designs and manufactures 100 per cent electric LCVs, which have collectively driven more than 12 million miles across Europe, I know that with the right political will, there is the ability to deliver meaningful and rapid results now.
Osman Boyner, CEO of BD Auto

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Bookies rarely lose out at the races

The bookmakers offered 2/9 for Douvan to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival after winning all 14 of his races since joining trainer Willie Mullins three years ago.

But the 11/1 shot Special Tiara produced an incredible ride to beat Douvan. It just goes to show: the horses will run and the punters can bet, but in horse racing, the bookies always win.
Tony Webb

Most people in Britain care about horses but when it comes to racing events such as Cheltenham, many tend to gloss over the animals’ plight.

Horses collapse, sustain broken legs and necks, and endure what the industry calls “breakdown”. Seven horses died during last year’s event — how many more must pay the ultimate price before horse racing is finally put out to pasture?
Jennifer White, Peta

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