Letter: Government can’t even sort our train system, how can they be trusted on Brexit?

PUBLISHED: 10:30 11 May 2018 | UPDATED: 10:30 11 May 2018

Commuters waiting for a train on the c2c line. PA WIRE/Nick Ansell

Commuters waiting for a train on the c2c line. PA WIRE/Nick Ansell

PA/Press Association Images

If the Government is willing to admit defeat on our train system how can they be trusted to sort out Brexit, asks a reader.

When the government cheerfully admits that it can not even run a workable and fair rail ticketing system via Network Rail, why should we have any faith that it can develop technology to facilitate the Brexiters’ ‘max-fac’ replacement for the customs union?

Geoff Parker

The government still has no feasible alternative to remaining in the EU customs union which avoids a hard border in Ireland or the Irish Sea and delays at key ports arising from the need to check goods.

It is calculated that a two-minute delay in processing vehicles at Dover would mean a 17-mile queue to Ashford, four minutes it extends to Maidstone, six minutes to the M25 and eight minutes to the Dartford Crossing. Similar queues would no doubt occur at other borders.

The government believes that technology will help reduce such delays. But the new Customs Declaration System due for launch in August was not designed for a hard Brexit. It will need to cope with an increase from some 55 million to 255 million declarations a year and a rise in the number of traders using it from 141,000 to 273,000 – far in excess of what was anticipated.

Additional functions will also be necessary with senior civil servants warning that the highly complex technology required for our ports may not be ready until 2023.

IT systems are not infallible. Especially government systems that have a history of failure as, for example, has again occurred in the NHS. Let’s also not forget their vulnerability to cyber-attacks.

Better to stick with the customs union we’ve got rather than risk plunging the country into gridlock.

Roger Hinds, Surrey

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