Azara Blog: The Lib Dems hate drivers

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Date published: 2010/04/05

The BBC says:

The Liberal Democrats have set out plans to reopen thousands of miles of railway tracks and stations.

The scheme would be funded by cutting capital spending on roads by £3bn.

Its new Rail Expansion Fund would lead to the biggest expansion of the rail network since the Victorian era, the party claims.

Research group the RAC Foundation said it would be a waste of taxpayers' money when only 7% of UK journeys were made by train, compared to 90% by car.
The Lib Dems would cut the government's major roads project for the years up to 2013/14 by 90% and divert almost £3.5bn to rail, according to Mr Baker.

Some £480m - currently intended for projects like motorway widening and hard shoulders - would go towards the Lib Dems' existing policy of cutting rail fares.

The remaining £2.95bn would go into the Rail Expansion Fund. RAC Foundation Prof Stephen Glaister said: "To start cutting the roads budget to expand rail services is unlikely to be the best use of scarce taxpayers' money either in financial terms or by way of serving the vast majority of the population.

"The public liability does not just end once new lines are constructed. Rail services are heavily subsidised by the Exchequer."

Drivers are the only people in the UK who pay for the full (direct and indirect) cost of the service they use. Train passengers do not even come close, and the Lib Dems have decided to give them a huge increase in subsidy. They fail to understand that rail is in fact not a "sustainable" form of transport, because it needs a whacking great government subsidy in order to be sustained. Train passengers have successfully externalised a huge cost onto the rest of society, almost uniquely as a group. And the Lib Dems have apparently also vastly underestimated the cost of doing what they claim they want to do. It's complete madness, but the Lib Dems have never been very good at Economics 101 or Environmentalism 101.

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