Car for rail fares Minister

07 January 2013

‘When our industry needs firm positive central leadership, the government opts for more fragmentation. When it needs unified national network planning, the government chooses to give individual operators more independence. When we need more investment, the government goes for cut-backs. ‘And what sort of leadership does Simon Burns show when it is revealed that the rail minister doesn’t care to take the train?'

Mick was referring to the news that Mr Burns, the government minister responsible for rail fares, refuses to take the train to his Essex home and instead costs the taxpayer £80,000 a year to be chauffeured to and from work. His lame excuse is that he ‘carries classified papers’ - but the Cabinet Office has confirmed that there are no restrictions on ministers taking the ‘red boxes’ that contain their government papers on public transport.

The cost to the taxpayer of Mr Burns’ motor is over £300 a day. A season ticket on the train would cost £10 a day.

The spokeswoman at the Department for Transport said, ‘There are good reasons he uses the car and I suspect that won't change.’ Such as, Mick Whelan suggests, his overwhelming unpopularity with voters!

Burns's use of the chauffeur-driven car came to light thanks for questions asked in the House by Fabian Hamilton, the Labour MP for Leeds North East.

The Shadow Transport Secretary, Labour’s Maria Eagle, said, ‘No wonder ministers are so out of touch with the eye-watering cost of rail fares when they are spending tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers money being driven round all day. 

‘They should get out of their limos and speak to those hard pressed commuters who have this week seen the cost of their season ticket rocket.’

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