IF I may respond to John Baxter’s letter (Train claim off track, July 14). In principle putting freight on the railway is a good thing. In practice the process of ‘externalising costs’ to make it appear more profitable has become completely unacceptable.

Bradford Station is not a ‘pile of rubble’ because (periodically) it gets repaired. Railtrack’s maintenance holiday (1997-2001) meant the whole line sagged into the ground (since relaid twice) and in one place lost all its ballast and was simply banging on to the rock; the station walls were completely shot and it cost about £120,000 to put right.

The curious can still see open joists, up to three-quarters of an inch wide, when the whole south west corner on platform 1 was being blown out by the vibrations and a large section of the historic canopy is currently rotten because the gutter joists were shaken loose.

The station is so neglected that Great Western Railway is threatening to withhold rent from Network Rail.

My understanding is that, in terms of vibration, long freight trains are classed as ‘continuous’ and the cumulative weight and speed of successive axles comes into play.

Gerald Corbett (of Railtrack) said there was “no difference between running a supermarket and running a railway” but there’s a very big difference in the damage caused by an out of control freight train and a supermarket trolley.

Seven million tonnes of Mendip stone is about 2,000 trains a year. Other cargoes include China clay from Cornwall, stone from near Hereford, liquid petroleum gas from Poole Harbour (one of these ‘bombs on wheels’ derailed near Bradford on February 6, 1998, luckily it did not explode) and nuclear waste.

Martin Valatin

St Margaret’s Hill

Bradford on Avon