Belfast Telegraph

Further fall in Government funding for rail industry

Government funding for the rail industry has fallen to its lowest level since the start of the decade, figures show.

Around £4.8 billion was spent supporting railways across the UK in 2015/16, according to data from the Department for Transport (DfT), Transport Scotland and the Welsh Government.

This is a fall of 2% on the previous year and a drop of 12% compared with 2013/14 funding levels.

The bulk of the money goes towards Network Rail for the upkeep of stations and tracks, as well as major projects like HS2 and Crossrail.

The figures show the lowest total since 2010/11, when £4.5 billion was spent by Government. However, it is around three times the amount invested in the year 2000/01.

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: "Commuters are increasingly shouldering the cost of running our railways despite enduring regularly overcrowded and unreliable services.

"And it's passengers rather than train operating companies who deserve the Government's support, which is why Labour are committed to bringing the railways back into public ownership so that every penny can be spent on improving services and keeping fares down."

Hundreds of thousands of commuters have faced travel misery in recent months amid a string of rail disruption and strikes, particularly in the south of England.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: "We understand and accept why this essential public service is supported by Government.

"What we do not accept is that a national asset, supported by passengers and taxpayers has become a corporate welfare racket for the private sector to suck profits out of when working people are subsidising the operation to the tune of nearly £5 billion a year."

All figures were adjusted for inflation.