Taxpayers are funding rail depot for trains that only run in France
Monday 10 October 2011
The Government is spending more than £300,000 a year on maintenance facilities for French trains commissioned as part of an aborted rail project that cost British taxpayers more than £180m.
The Department for Transport spent "between £300,000 and £400,000 last year" on mothballed facilities for the aborted Regional Eurostar project that would have provided a direct link between provincial cities and the Continent.
The seven trains that were built to run these services – at a cost of £180m – are now used by the French train operator SNCF to alleviate rolling-stock shortages on its high-speed service between Paris and Lille.
A depot built in Manchester to maintain the trains remains the responsibility of London & Continental Railways, a company that is wholly owned by the Department for Transport. It has lain largely unused since it was built in the early 1990s and London & Continental has to pay for its upkeep, though there has been no indication that it will ever be required for its original purpose.
For many years a sign declaring "Le Eurostar habite ici" (Eurostar resides here) hung on the building in the city's Longsight district.
Bruce Williamson, of the lobby group Railfuture, said: "One has to ask whether the Department for Transport are getting best value for money out of this asset. £300,000 a year could subsidise extra services."
The chief executive of London & Continental Railways, David Joy, said: "Securing a new railway tenant or purchaser for the site remains the preferred solution. There have been inquiries from rail industry companies regarding potential uses of the main depot building, although as yet there is no firm proposal. We are reviewing where we can economise."
The Regional Eurostar service was to have run services from cities such as Manchester and Glasgow to Paris and was part of the programme to build the Channel Tunnel, but was shelved after rail privatisation.
The trains are owned by Eurostar International, which runs passenger services through the Channel Tunnel. It leased them to SNCF for four years in 2007 and is likely to renew the lease, even though the trains could be used to reduce overcrowding on UK routes.
Eurostar declined to comment on contract's value or whether it might run regional services in future.
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
Yemen crisis: Meet the child soldiers who have forsaken books for Kalashnikovs
Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...