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Railway costs revealed by minister

More than £3 million has been paid out in overtime in the last two years to staff working in areas under the control of the Department of Community, Culture and Leisure.

The figure has been revealed in a written reply to a Tynwald question from North Douglas MHK Bill Henderson, who tabled no fewer than 23 related items, for answer by Chief Minister Tony Brown and Leisure Minister David Cretney at this week's sitting.

Another written answer from Mr Cretney shows that a similar sum has been paid to consultants and outside contractors in relation to functions of the DCCL in the same period.

Many of the questions covered staffing and financial issues at the department, which has said it may have to lay off up to 22 maintenance workers to balance its books.

In his answer on overtime payments, Mr Cretney says most overtime on the vintage railways is associated with the five-day week his department operates, and the fact all weekend working is at overtime rates. He says changes were made for seasonal workers last year, which means they now work any five days from seven at standard rates of pay.

As far as bus drivers are concerned, all Sunday services are operated at overtime rates in a six-day working week, although what's described as 'a significant part' of bus driver overtime is caused through work to cover absence due to illness.

In a breakdown of the £3.1 million expenditure on consultants and contractors, by far the biggest sum mentioned by Mr Cretney is £2.1 million, which was paid to 16 contractors in the period for capital and minor capital projects.

Just under half a million pounds went to eight consultants for the same purpose, with just over half a million paid to ten contractors in a column marked 'other'.

The majority of the schemes under which money was paid to consultants were in relation to the vintage railway systems.

They included MER and Snaefell Mountain Railway track renewals, work on Laxey bridge and station, and overhead line inspections.

No breakdown is given of what the 16 contractors provided for the £2.1 million.

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