The National Budget for 2018

Continued focus on transport

Minister of Transport and Communications Ketil Solvik-Olsen says “With an increase of the transport budget of more than four billion kroner the government is contributing to reducing unemployment, increasing competitiveness for trade & industry and bringing the nation ever closer together. The transport budget for 2018 is proof that the National Transport Plan is not simply an expression of ambition, but is a plan that the government is well on the way to keeping its promise to fulfil.

In its budget proposal for 2018 the government proposes to allocate 67.5 billion kroner to the transport budget. This is an increase of 4.1 billion kroner or 6.5 percent in comparison to the final budget for 2017.

“This government has had an historic focus on transport. Never before has the focus on road and rail maintenance been so high, with the simultaneous construction of new and modern infrastructure. Allocations since 2013 have increased by more than 60 percent, including the proposal for the 2018 budget.

Following up the National Transport Plan

The main features and guidelines for the transport sector for the immediate future are incorporated in the National Transport Plan 2018-2029. During the course of the 12-year plan the government will invest 1 064 billion 2017 kroner in the modernisation of the nation’s infrastructure and the development of safe and efficient transport solutions.

Through the implementation of the NTP 2018-2029 the government will develop mobility solutions for the future and a safe and secure transport system, promote wealth creation and make all necessary preparations for the transition to a low-emission society.

“These record investments will be to the benefit of the whole nation and will result in the improvement of everyday travel, safer transport and increased mobility. The potential for growth and employment is inextricably linked to good transport solutions. 2018 is the first budget year of the NTP 2018-2029. With the budget we are proposing today, we will be well on the way to achieving our aims”, says the Minister of Transport.

More roads per kroner

The government is focussed on delivering better and safer roads nationwide, and it is the road network that will receive the largest budget increase in 2018. The proposal allocates in the region of 35.9 billion kroner, an increase of approximately 2.6 billion kroner or 7.7 percent compared to the final budget for 2017.

The proposed investment in national highways is 20.6 billion kroner, an increase of approximately 1.5 billion kroner or 7.9 percent, compared to the final budget of 2017.

“In addition to new infrastructure and a reduction in the maintenance backlog of existing infrastructure, the government has implemented vital measures and initiatives designed to improve the exploitation of resources in the sector. Nye Veier AS will contribute to more efficient and effective road construction and has already proven that major savings can be made in road building without this impacting on quality”, says Solvik-Olsen.

The Railways Reform – better use of increased funding

“The railway sector is an important priority for the government in providing the travelling public and trade & industry with good transport services. Allocations have increased dramatically during the course of the last four years, and will continue to do so”, says Solvik-Olsen.

The government proposal for 2018 is a total of 23.1 billion kroner to the railway sector. This is an increase of 1.2 billion kroner, or 5.7 percent compared to the final budget for 2017.

Amongst other measures, the government proposes an allocation of approximately 2.1 billion kroner for the planning of new rail infrastructure, an increase of 26 percent compared to the final 2017 budget. The planned high level of activity is in the first instance prioritised to realise the milestones marking improvements of InterCity Services in 2024 and 2026.

The amount earmarked for the operation and maintenance of the current rail network is close to 7.8 billion kroner, an increase of 6.2 percent in comparison to the final budget for 2017.

“The railways reform will result in the more efficient exploitation of major increases in allocations that the railways sector has received in recent years. Competition for the operation of passenger services is an important part of the government’s railways reform. This will contribute to improvements in services, and not least that the government purchases rail services at good and competitive prices”, says Solvik-Olsen.

Improved public transport in the towns and cities

“Flexible public transport solutions and fit for purpose facilities for pedestrians and cyclists are a prerequisite in attaining day-to-day transport systems with fewer jams and improved and greener town and city environments”, says Solvik-Olsen.

The government proposes the allocation of approximately 2.5 billion kroner for measures and initiatives in the larger cities, an increase of 23 percent compared to the 2017 final budget. The funds will be used for incentive schemes for improvements in public transport, improvements to national highways, as well as for incentives and grants to major projects in public transport under urban environment agreements and urban growth agreements.

Safe and environmentally friendly sea transport

The government continues to prioritise measures and initiatives to maintain and further develop a high level of maritime safety.

Amongst other measures, the government will allocate 400 million kroner for navigational infrastructure (lighthouses, beacons & markers and other navigation aids), and 85 million kroner for a new multi-function vessel that will contribute to increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of maintenance.

Further, increased efficiency and open competition will contribute to major cost reductions in coastal areas. As a contribution to the reduction of the costs of sea transport, the government proposes to continue the trial arrangement for the transfer of goods from road to sea. The government proposes that 75.2 million kroner shall be allocated to this arrangement in 2018. At the same time pilotage charges are to be reduced by 22.2 million kroner compared to the final budget for 2017.

An oil pollution and environmental centre at Lofoten and Vesterålen will be established as a national centre of expertise for the work on oil pollution and marine pollution. The government’s recommendation in the proposed budget is for the allocation of 27 million kroner for the new oil pollution and environmental centre.
“The centre will be a leading national centre of expertise in the work on oil pollution and in combating pollution of marine environments”, says Solvik-Olsen.

Smarter transport

The government is also investing in digital infrastructure.

“Both trade & industry and critical social functions are becoming ever more dependent on electronic communications and ITC systems in order to function efficiently in day-to-day situations and in the case of major incidents or events. This is why we are proposing two new priority investment areas for improved security and robustness. In order to improve ECOM security, we propose that 40 million kroner be allocated to a pilot scheme for an alternative core network, and an allocation of 40 million kroner for preparing for international fibre cabling.

“New technology will also contribute to that we achieve our objectives as laid down in our transport policy. This is why the government is establishing Pilot-T, a grant arrangement designed to contribute to that new solutions are taken into use more quickly in the transport sector, and also to prepare the ground so that Norwegian participants can compete in supplying new mobility solutions to the sector.

Through competition in smarter transport in Norway, the government will stimulate local innovation and development. The government proposes that 15 million kroner is allocated to this end.