Fiscal Budget 2015

Investing in transport for the future

“Increased investments in roads and railways; a reduction in the maintenance-lag for the first time in decades; and major investment in coastal administration. The Høyre-Fr.P (Conservative-/ Progress Party) government’s fiscal budget proposals include NOK 54.6bn to transport. This is 14.1% higher than the budget proposed for 2014 by the previous government. But equally important, the sector is now being reorganised to make it more efficient,” says transport minister Ketil Solvik-Olsen about the fiscal budget for 2015.

“Increased investments in roads and railways; a reduction in the maintenance-lag for the first time in decades; and major investment in coastal administration. The Høyre-Fr.P (Conservative-/ Progress Party) government’s fiscal budget proposals include NOK 54.6bn to transport. This is 14.1% higher than the budget proposed for 2014 by the previous government. But equally important, the sector is now being reorganised to make it more efficient,” says transport minister Ketil Solvik-Olsen about the fiscal budget for 2015.

The operation and maintenance of today’s infrastructure will be given high priority.

“We must take care of the infrastructure we have. Over many years, the maintenance of roads and railways has increasingly lagged behind. In 2015, this will change. For the first time in decades, the maintenance-lag will be reduced. Combined with efficiency benefits we will also stop growth in maintenance-lag on the railways,” says Solvik-Olsen.

NOK 26.8 billion to road network improvement schemes
Allocations for road network improvement schemes increase by 18 per cent compared with the budget proposal for 2014 from the red-green alliance. This is based on a clear priority.

“We will ensure good maintenance. National road network tunnels will undergo considerable upgrading to satisfy the requirements for tunnel safety and electrical engineering standards. The Government then wants to see rational progress made on projects that have already started in order to ensure effective use of resources. In addition, we have capacity to implement major new road projects nationwide,” says the transport minister.

Several major projects that have been planned on the basis of a high ratio of toll financing can start up with state grants. All major projects that are planned for start-up in 2015 through the action programme of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration are eligible for start-up grants. In addition, NOK 600 million will be used in 2015 for the planning of more new road projects. For example, planning grants will be awarded for many key projects on the E39, E18 and E6 roads.

The Government proposes that the so-called “interest compensation scheme” for county roads should continue in 2015, and that the investment framework should be increased from NOK 2 billion to NOK 3 billion. It is proposed to spend NOK 272 million (from the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation’s budget) to improve tunnels on the county road network and NOK 200 million on county road improvements. The work to protect county roads against rock slides will continue. In total, this constitutes a considerable lift for the county road network.

“The county road network is perhaps the biggest winner among many budget winners, with an increase of fully 67 per cent,” says Mr Solvik-Olsen.

NOK 21 billion to rail network improvement schemes
The Government is improving commuting by making public transport options more attractive. The allocations for rail purposes increase by 21 per cent compared with the budget proposal for 2014 from the red-green alliance. Allocations to the Follo Line are way ahead of what was anticipated after two years in the National Transport Plan.

The Sørland Line (Stavanger-Kristiansand-Oslo) will see a new and improved rail service with a greater frequency of trains, while the Trønder commuter line will be extended southwards to Melhus. Preparations are under way for the National State Raileays (NSB) to procure more passenger rolling stock to improve rail services in East Norway (Greater Oslo area?) and on the Jær Line.

Funding for the Fornebu Line will satisfy ambitions for the state to cover up to 50 per cent of the cost of major investments in public transport infrastructures in the four main cities.

NOK 3 billion for coastal administration purposes
The budget proposal for coastal administration is 14.4 per cent higher that the red-green alliance’s proposal for 2014. The responsibility for coastal administration was transferred to the Ministry of Transport and Communication following the change of government last year, and it is now proposed to appropriate 10 per cent of the dividend from the new infrastructure fund to strengthen sea transport.

“We want coastal shipping to be a more integratedwith the national transport network. The result is a major investment programme that will see the start-up of a number of important coastal projects. With the exception of Borg harbour, Røsvikrenna, we will implement the development and planning of the shipping lane schemes included in the first four-year period of the National Transport Plan. In addition, we will start planning a number of projects for the next six-year period,” says the transport minister. 

In the fiscal budget proposal, NOK 10 million is allocated to port improvement schemes through a new grant arrangement for port cooperation.

It is proposed to allocate NOK 40 million for establishing an oil spill/ environmental protection base in the Lofoten/Vesterålen area.
“And after years of studies and red tape, the physical work of making safe  the wreck of the U 864 submarine in Hordaland can start,” says Mr Solvik-Olsen.

Sector reorganisation – NOK 40 billion to the investment fund
NOK 40 billion will be allocated to the infrastructure investment fund, bringing the total up to NOK 70 billion. This means that the Government is well on the way to achieving its goal of NOK 100 billion over 5 years. The planned road construction company will be established in 2015. 

“It is important for us to combine increased grants with a thorough reform of the sector. Only by doing this can we increase the rate of development and achieve a more effective use of resources. These measures will provide a more stable and predictable financing and planning of important infrastructure. We will also continue our work on reforming the railways, with a national port strategy, and on reforming road tolls,” says the transport minister.