U.K. rail minister chided over limo

Jan. 6, 2013 at 10:22 AM

LONDON, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- A transportation department spokesman says Britain's railroad minister travels to work by limo rather than train for security reasons.

Simon Burns, minister of state for transportation, raised eyebrows when it was revealed he was commuting from the London suburbs by car at the same time ordinary Britons were facing a new round of train fare increases.

The Department of Transportation explained Burns did not really have the option to ride the rails because he frequently handled confidential documents during his commute and could not take the chance of having some random straphanger looking over his shoulder.

"The minister of state does not have a home in London but uses his commute to work on official papers and so travels in a car provided by the government car service for security reasons," a department spokeswoman said.

Burns' personal travel arrangements irked some critics since he was behind a new 4.2-percent increase in the price of train tickets, The Guardian said.

"This is a pathetic response," said Christian Wolmar, president of Railfuture, an advocacy group for rail customers.

Wolmar added government ministers are allowed to carry classified documents on trains as long as they take precautions to avoid snoopers. "One has to ask if he is a suitable person to be a rail minister if this is his attitude to our railways," he said.

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