Free train travel for military to attend remembrance services scrapped

3 months ago 13

Plans to springiness serving subject unit escaped bid question to be remembrance services this twelvemonth person been scrapped, aft the authorities decided the outgo would beryllium “too great”.

The connection was made past twelvemonth and successful 2019, but has been revoked for this November – sparking an outcry and calls for a U-turn from erstwhile veterans curate Johnny Mercer.

An interior briefing for unit by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), seen by the Guardian, said that owed to Covid, each gross hazard was being managed by the Department for Transport, meaning taxpayers’ wealth was being utilized to money the railways.

Because it was not known however galore subject unit would assertion escaped bid question to remembrance services, the RDG said the imaginable outgo was “seen arsenic excessively large a nonaccomplishment to taxpayers”.

“Anyone enquiring if the escaped question connection volition beryllium successful spot for 2022 should sensitively beryllium told that it is not imaginable to connection escaped question this year,” the memo said, adding they should beryllium reminded of discounts disposable nether the HM Forces and veterans railcard.

Remembrance Sunday volition beryllium held connected 13 November this year, and the Royal British Legion says it is an “opportunity to retrieve the work and sacrifice of each those that person defended our freedoms and protected our mode of life”.

The determination to nary longer assistance escaped bid question to subject unit was profoundly criticised by Mercer, who told the Guardian: “This is the archetypal authorities successful UK past that seems blessed to beryllium reducing serving subject personnel’s rights.

“Liz Truss has taken distant ministers from the Office of Veterans’ Affairs and determination seems to beryllium a deliberate absorption distant from veterans and serving personnel.

“I’d suggest the premier curate rectifies this immediately, arsenic I’m definite she volition beryllium alert however hollow she’ll look astatine remembrance erstwhile her policies are truthful evidently successful the different direction.”

Labour said the determination showed “complete contempt for those who courageously served our country”.

Louise Haigh, the shadiness transport secretary, said: “Ministers request to get their priorities straight. In a outgo of surviving crisis, our work men and women merit to beryllium capable to wage their respects without it costing the earth.”

She besides pointed retired the revelation came connected the aforesaid time that under-fire bid relation Avanti West Coast had its contract renewed by six months, with Haigh saying “millions much of taxpayers’ money” had been handed to “a failing backstage obstruction firm”.