We need more investment in rail, right across the country
The Chancellor's budget, announced today, was nothing more than a confidence trick.
Communities across the country were looking to the government to invest in infrastructure, raise living standards and support people and families. Instead they got empty promises and 'announcements' that aren't even new commitments.
While there were some big numbers thrown around on 'rail investment', they turned out to be nothing more than a smokescreen when ASLEF looked at the detail. What we need to see is proper investment in rail infrastructure, right across the country.
In the North West we need capacity improvements, not service reductions. We need to see HS2 reach its full potential by linking Scotland to the South East, via the North West and East Midlands. We need to see rail being boosted in every region and nation.
The Chancellor also announced a reduction in Air Passenger Duty for internal flights. On the eve of the COP 26 UN climate change conference being held in Glasgow, this seems to be a long way off message for a government that claims it wants to tackle the climate crisis.
It was also noticeable that there was nothing in this budget to help reduce fares for rail passengers, or any other funding commitment to incentivise people back onto the railway as we recover from the pandemic.
We need a budget of investment in rail infrastructure, and one that gets passengers and freight onto the railway to reduce carbon emissions and make travel cleaner, greener and safer.
Read General Secretary Mick Whelan's comments to the media here.
You can also see the full text of the budget speech, and download the detailed spending commitments, on the Government website here.