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.

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