Posted 24th May 2010 | 5 Comments

Transport faces £683m cuts

DEPARTMENT for Transport budgets are to be reduced by £683 million. The savings are part of national cutbacks worth a total of £6.2 billion in the current financial year, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said today.

However, there are warnings that the squeeze is set to get even tougher, as the government battles with the vast deficit in public funds which followed the banking crisis.

However, although it's not yet clear where the cuts will fall, and how much railways could be affected, the RMT union said today‘s announcement was ‘the thin end of a very thick wedge’.

It warned that major projects like Crossrail could still be under threat, although the new government has said it remains committed to the scheme.

The RMT pointed out that: ‘Yesterday, transport minister Theresa Villiers refused to give a clear commitment to the Crossrail project in its entirety – sending out a warning that the new government may see transport as a soft touch for savage cuts’.

The union added that Underground upgrades and main line electrification could also be at risk. General secretary Bob Crow said: “It is clear that major infrastructure projects, essential to modernising transport services in the UK, are under threat. The continued threat to Crossrail, confirmed by the government yesterday, is the thin end of a very thick wedge.

“Any attack on rail would expose the hypocrisy of the new government on their green agenda as it would send more people on to the roads and into the skies.

“The UK has been left in the slow lane on High Speed and electrification as the rest of Europe motors ahead and thousands of the workers that we need to maintain and upgrade rail infrastructure remain under threat.

“Today is just the opening shots in a cuts and austerity war that could ram a gaping hole in the UK’s public services and jack up mass unemployment to Thatcherite levels and beyond.”

Meanwhile, the Department for Transport was unable to give any further details at this stage of where the cuts will be made.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Peter kelly, Amersham, Bucks

    Not only is the budget to be cut, the government is intent on spending £30 billion plus on HS2. Surely this white elephant must be killed off and investment sensibly targeted on our existing network.

  • diogenes, leeds, uk

    The UK has always had no transport policy. In Leeds, the largest city in Europe without trams or underground, scemes since 1942 (tram subways) have been brought forward and then scrapped after millions have been spent on them. 68 years of failure. It is futile to expect any government to have a transport poloicy. Successive governments have failed - one must just look across the Channel to see what has happened in France in the last 30 years.

  • David Spencer, Bolton, Lancashire, UK

    Let us not forget that bankers and ROSCOs have purchased passenger carriages earlier in orivatisation and could again if forced to at no cost to the taxpayer. I do believe that the Coalition Government must understand whose money it is saving when ordering cuts at the DfT. The other thing to point out is that those who make cuts know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Cutting infrastructure projects for rail will COST the taxpayer money in terms of penalties and reinventing the wheel. In this instance Bob Crow is right to argue as he has on any cuts to electrification. It's Bedford and Tyne and Wear Metro all over again at colossal cost to the taxpayer.

  • Peter Hooper, Windsor, UK

    The London Assembly report "Light at the end of the (Crossrail) Tunnel" published in Feb 2010 may give a clue. Appendix 3 (page 41) Recommendation 1, states :-
    "We recommend that, should additional funding be required, London is not asked to contribute further to the construction of Crossrail and that consideration is given to extending a Crossrail levy to local authorities on the route outside the GLA boundary.

  • Steve Burrows, Margate, England

    It will be a sad day for the industry and the environment if investment in rail is cut. However, is this not really because the last government had spent the money on bailing out the bankers?