New Pendolino trains on the West Coast main line will displace the Mk 3 coaches which have provided rail services for the past 30 years.

About 150 of the well-built coaches will go to the scrap yard because leasing company Porterbrook cannot find another train operator which wants to lease them.

MEP Chris Davies has appealed to Transport Secretary Alistair Darling to take action to protect them for long term use on the railway.

"They have years of life left in them and while their value cannot be calculated, the cost of replacing them with new vehicles would be £120million," said Mr Davies, Lib Dem MEP for North West England.

"British Rail operated a cascade policy which ensured that investment decisions took account of the need to use displaced rolling stock to upgrade standards elsewhere.

"Privatisation swept aside such joined-up thinking and the issue is hardly addressed by the Strategic Rail Authority's rolling stock strategy statement.

"This is surely one instance when the case for central planning to make best use of resources is overwhelming."

Transport Minister Kim Howells has told Mr Davies that some of the coaches will be used on ONE Anglia services from London Liverpool Street to Norwich but there is little scope for using inter-city coaches on other routes.

This inability of the Government to devise a way of using good rail vehicles is a further indictment of the current railway set-up.

In the past, vehicles like this - which cost very little to keep running and have been "written off" by the accountants - would have been used for relief trains at crowded periods, for boosting other services or being used on reopened lines. But the SRA and the Government has failed to reopen lines.

If people have ideas where these vehicles could be used, please contact Railfuture.