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Tuesday, 29 January, 2002, 17:10 GMT
'Extra' 2bn for railway - Byers
Passengers on a platform
Spending plans depend in part on the private sector
Britain's beleaguered transport system is to get an extra 2bn of government cash, according to Transport Secretary Stephen Byers.

But his comments have prompted Conservative shadow transport secretary Theresa May to accuse Mr Byers of double counting.

Mr Byers said the extra money was over and above the 180bn cash injection planned to reverse the fortunes of the UK's ailing transport infrastructure.


I am pleased that we have been able to put this extra money into the railways without cutting spending on other areas of transport

Stephen Byers

A fortnight ago the Strategic Rail Authority said that it was to be given an extra 4.5bn of public funding for the railways over the next decade.

But ministers said the money had come from unallocated funds in the overall 10-year transport plan.

Now Mr Byers has said that the funds are additional, pushing the 10-year transport budget to nearly 182bn.

Mr Byers said: "We always said that transport would be a priority for our second term in office.

"I am pleased that we have been able to put this extra money into the railways without cutting spending on other areas of transport."

He went on to reject the charge of double counting, saying the money was secured after talks with the Treasury.

Partnership?

A department of transport official said: "It was agreed that part of the extra 4.5bn for railways would not now have to come out of the overall 10-year transport budget."

But Mrs May said: "You have admitted today that you lost 2bn of funding for Railtrack, that your figures have included double counting, that nearly 68bn is now less than 65bn.

"I can only assume you are going to Edexcel for advice on how to do your maths," she told Mr Byers.

He replied: "I would have thought that you would have applauded the fact that we have got an extra 2.2bn going into the 10-year transport plan."

He added that the opposition were unable to promise to not match the government's transport spending commitments.

The government has yet to secure the necessary private sector backing to reach its investment targets.

The private sector would need to contribute 31.4bn on top of the 33.5bn pledged by the government taking the overall investment in the railways to 64.9bn.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
FT correspondent Cathy Newman
"It damages the government as a whole"
Shadow chancellor Michael Howard
"An absolutely appalling muddle"
See also:

14 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Rail masterplan unveiled
14 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Rail funding fears remain
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