U.K. Transport Secretary Byers resigns, replaced by Darling

Posted on May 30, 2002

Transport Secretary Stephen Byers resigned Tuesday after months of criticism of his handling of Britain's crumbling rail network. His replacement is Alistair Darling, Britain's work and pensions secretary. "By remaining in office, I damage the government," said Byers at a news conference. Byers' departure deprives opposition politicians of a frequent target in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Tony Blair, but it relieves Blair of a problem that has dogged his government for months, said the AP. Byers received heavy criticism after his initial decision to not compensate Railtrack shareholders when the rail network went into financial administration after Byers denied it any additional government funds. A series of fatal crashes and major financial problems discredited Railtrack, the private company in charge of the network infrastructure. Safety problems forced Railtrack to spend millions replacing track, which disrupted travel for months.

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