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Rail access budget ‘halved’

Rail access budget ‘halved’
6th May 2010 developer

The government appears to have slashed one of the budgets for improving access at railway stations by more than half.

The Department for Transport (DfT) had been intending to spend £7.9 million on improving access at stations across Britain in 2010-11 through the small schemes fund of its Access for All programme.

But the DfT has apparently now cut that figure to £3.9 million.

It is unclear whether the DfT has also cut the budget of the larger part of the Access for All budget which is aimed at improving access at the busiest stations. That annual budget is usually about five times bigger than the small schemes fund.

The DfT was unable to comment this week because of election rules.

But its apparent decision to cut the budget of the small schemes fund was attacked in a letter written to the DfT by the Scottish government’s transport minister, Stewart Stevenson.

Stevenson said the DFT had intended to allocate £7.9 million to the fund in 2010-11, but had now cut that to just £3.9 million across Britain, with the amount for Scotland reduced to £390,000, also a cut of more than half.

A spokesman for Stevenson, a member of the Scottish National Party, said: “How can wasting billions on nuclear weapons possibly be justified, while slashing funding by more than half on an excellent programme to improve access to the rail network for disabled people?

“This budget cut must be suspended, so that the issue can be revisited after the UK election.”

The Access for All fund was launched with a £370 million government funding pot in 2006, to improve access at train stations across England, Wales and Scotland.

Organisations such as councils and regional transport bodies can bid for cash but must match any funding they secure.