Communications and infrastructure

In accordance with the National Transport Plan 2010–2019, the overriding goal for the Government’s transport policy is to offer an efficient, accessible, safe and environmentally friendly transport system that meets society’s transport needs and promotes regional development.

The environmental targets set out in the National Transport Plan are based on the national environment targets. Transport policy shall contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the environmentally harmful impact of transport, and to achieving national targets and Norway’s international obligations in this area. The Government’s public transport strategy, strategy for cyclists and freight transport strategy are important elements in the work to achieve the environmental transport policy targets.

The current transport system has significant negative impacts through interventions in unspoiled nature areas and loss of valuable agricultural land, natural diversity and cultural heritage sites/monuments, greenhouse gas emissions and local air pollution and noise. In order for the transport system to contribute to sustainable development, our transport needs must be reduced and traffic growth must be based on more environmentally friendly means of transport.

Developments in the transport sector depend on developments in land use. Sprawling land use patterns with long distances between the home, workplace and leisure activities increase the need for transport. Conversely, better land utilisation and considered decisions on the siting of enterprises reduce the need for transport. Active regional and municipal planning whereby land use and transport policy are coordinated and the need for transport reduced is therefore necessary if we are to achieve our environmental policy targets.

In order to reduce growth in car traffic, it is necessary to find good solutions for public transport and a well-developed network of footpaths and bicycle paths. One of the goals of the National Transport Plan is to increase the share of bicycle transport from the current 4–5 per cent to 8 per cent in the course of the planning period. At the same time, local initiatives are required in the cities/towns to introduce congestion charges and parking restrictions. Better conditions for cyclists and pedestrians also improve the safety of school routes, increase physical activity and reduce emissions.

It is a goal for more freight to be carried by rail and sea. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to facilitate the development of railways, efficient goods terminals and ports, and safe and efficient fairways. It is important to secure accessibility for commercial transport.

Transport needs and the challenges involved vary between different parts of the country and between different urban and peri-urban areas and more sparsely populated areas. It is important to ensure good transport services in rural areas to maintain active and thriving communities. This is also important in relation to the accessibility of health services.

Investments in transport can have serious impacts on the environment. Increased traffic and the development of new infrastructure can lead to deterioration and loss of ecological functional areas for plants and animals and to encroachment on agricultural land. The effects of greenhouse gas emissions are the same, regardless of whether they take place in urban or rural areas.

The strain on the infrastructure will increase as a result of climate change. This will give rise to major challenges in the planning, development and maintenance of infrastructure, not least in relation to landslide/avalanche protection. A good infrastructure for drinking water is necessary to secure good-quality, healthy drinking water to inhabitants. This requires maintenance of drinking water and wastewater systems, and adequate water treatment at the waterworks.

The transport system must be upgraded so that it can be used by everybody to the greatest possible extent and so that the need for individual solutions is reduced. All new infrastructure must be based on the principle of universal design. Measures must also be considered to upgrade existing stations, stops and traffic hubs to the same standard.

Access to broadband and high-capacity electronic communication is a national target. Access to online services in all parts of the country reduces the need for work travel in many sectors. A well-developed digital infrastructure is important to innovation and value creation in business and industry, the use of public services and to people’s opportunity to participate in social life. The county and municipal authorities control important transmission routes for electronic communication.


Communications and infrastructure in figures

Transportation is experiencing strong growth in Norway, and this development will continue. Much of this growth will be in road transport, unless measures are implemented to prevent it. The use of public transport in Oslo is increasing. Here, the proportion of trips made by car is 35 per cent, compared with 63 per cent for the country as a whole.

The total number of trips made in Norway has increased by approx. 1.6 per cent per year in the last 20 years. Most of these trips are short: more than 40 per cent are shorter than three kilometres.

Long trips nevertheless account for one third of transportation. Every person makes more than three trips per day and they mostly travel by car. The number of short trips remains stable, but the number of travel and leisure trips is growing. The length of the average trip has increased from 37 km in 2005 to 42 km in 2009, and air travel increases the most.

In domestic freight transport, much of the transport between the big cities takes place by rail, while sea transport is most prevalent along the coast of Western Norway. Road haulage is otherwise dominant.