A £10 million fund promised for the improvement of cycle facilities on the rail network is set to be drastically cut by the Department for Transport (DfT), according to this report on Road.cc.
Under the Labour Government, the DfT dedicated a total of £14 million ‘to transform facilities for cyclists at rail stations and encourage healthier, greener travel’.
£4m of the total was provided by the axed Cycling England for four Cycle Demonstration train operators. £10m was dedicated for implementing pro-bike recommendations, £5m of which was announced in June ’09 for the ‘Cycle Hubs’ programme. A further £5m was set to be funded by the DfT and Network Rail.
Now the promised £10m looks set to be cut by £4m.
A DfT spokesperson told the website: “The £10m funding for cycle facilities at stations was announced by a previous administration. The current Government’s priority is reducing the deficit. As a result the spending review has seen cuts in various budgets.
“We have worked closely with Network Rail who has agreed to fund £5m from their Discretionary Fund to improve cycle facilities at stations. This, in addition to £1m already spent by the Department, will see a £6m investment in cycle facilities at stations.”
It may come as no surprise to critics that this cut in funding contradicts assurances from Liberal Democrats, prior to the General Election last year, that they had no plans to cut pledges made by the Labour Government for cycling. Speaking to BikeBiz in April last year, a Party spokesperson said: “We agree that cycling can help to combat obesity, man-made climate change and congestion and we have no plans to cut pledges already made by the Government on cycling schemes.”
The Government looks set to move the burden for the £4m shortfall to the private sector and Network Rail, which has access to a Discretionary Fund of £284m. Competing interests for funding – including disabled access for stations – appear to befirst in line for Network Rail cash, however.
How the funding cuts will affect pledges for the pre-Election Lib Dem-touted ‘Gold standard’ for train and bus stations, remains to be seen. Speaking before the Election the Party said: “Liberal Democrats will require train and coach operators to accommodate bicycles on all new vehicles and improve cycle storage and parking at stations. We will introduce a cycling ‘Gold Standard’ award for all rail and bus stations which meet minimum cycle facility standards, including adequate provision of secure cycle parking and information on local cycle routes."