The government plans to use over NOK 32.1 billion for railways in 2021, up from NOK 26.8 billion in last year’s proposal. That is an increase of 20%.
The railway allocation has been known to the public for a week and a half, as the outgoing Liberal Party leader Trine Skei Grande revealed the information in a budget leak.
Minister of Transport and Communications Knut Arild Hareide described the investment as historic.
“This is the first time that an allocation of more than NOK 30 billion for railway purposes is planned,” Hareide noted in a press release.
Intercity in Eastern Norway
The money will mainly be used to ensure progress in existing construction projects.
The intercity sections in Eastern Norway are given priority status, which will lead to shorter travel times and more departures between several big cities.
Work on several sections on the Dovre line will ensure a travel time of around one hour between Oslo and Hamar.
On the Vestfold line, the Drammen-Kobbervikdalen and Nykirke-Barkåker projects will be continued. This makes it possible to have four trains per hour between Oslo and Tønsberg.
Norway’s largest transport project, Follobanen, is among the sections on the Østfold line given priority.
Not enough money for upkeep and renewal?
In a press release, Bane Nor – the Norwegian government agency responsible for owning, maintaining, operating, and developing the Norwegian railway network – expressed satisfaction with the record-breaking investment budget, especially with regard to the Intercity project.
However, they believe renewal has not been prioritized, as NOK 2.7 billion has been set aside to renew the railway network.
“NOK 2.7 billion is a large amount, but unfortunately, it is not sufficient to prevent the railways from deteriorating further in 2021.
“To maintain the status quo of the railway, NOK 3.5 billion annually is needed to renew the railway network,” CEO Gorm Frimannslund in Bane Nor said.
With this budget proposal, the large backlog will also increase next year and end at around NOK 23 billion by the end of 2021, according to Bane Nor.
In Trøndelag, train traffic will be more environmentally friendly through electrification on the Meråker line, the Leangen-Stavne line, and the Trønder line between Trondheim and Værnes.
Additionally, 14 hybrid trains will replace old diesel trains on a number of routes.
They will also be more reliable and comfortable.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today