Former Tory minister Edward Leigh was speaking after Westminster’s main financial watchdog published a report urging Buckingham Palace to look at hiring a commercial train operator or choosing to fly as an alternative to the Royal Train.
The PAC concluded that the Royal train – used by the Queen for her three-month Golden Jubilee tour this year – was expensive and normally underused.
Although the all-party group accepted that ‘it is often much less stressful for the Queen to be able to use the royal train as an overnight base’, it said there were other acceptable options.
The Palace is undertaking a review of the train’s future following the Jubilee celebrations. The train’s cost to the taxpayer last year was £596,000 for 17 journeys – £35,059 per trip.
Leigh said it was likely the Royal train would be taken out of service as it was twice as expensive as travel by air.
He continued by saying that the Royal train was old, slow, could only run at night, and was twice as expensive as air travel, adding: ‘The Royal Household might well come to the conclusion that it has had its day.
‘In the modern world there are easier commercial options. It is frankly so expensive just to keep this thing sitting in the sidings for most of the year that it would be much more comfortable, much easier and much more cost effective to actually hire an entire carriage for the night and simply tack it on to the end of a normal train.
‘It is used very rarely these days. It is much easier in the modern world to just jump into a helicopter and get there in half an hour.’
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