Letter: Government spending on the Royal Train

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The Independent Online
Sir: There is no substance to your story about the Government taking funds away from BR pensions in order to increase expenditure on the Royal Train (24 November). The truth is more mundane.

Before the start of the financial year the Department of Transport forecast to Parliament its expenditure on BR pensions. Since then BR pension managers have reassessed their requirement and, with fewer BR employees retiring than expected, they now require less government money. The Government's commitments to pensions are being met in full.

As part of the same forecasting process BR have revised upwards their earlier estimate of the cost of operating the Royal Train - to a level equivalent to last year's operating costs.

The two items are linked together in a routine re-apportionment of funds only because they both involve central government's expenditure on the railways. There is no other linkage.

Yours faithfully,

ROGER FREEMAN

Minister for Public Transport

The Department of Transport

London, SW1

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