Source: Government of Norway
“The government’s transport policy binds the nation and its citizens closer together. We are building roads and railways at a rapid pace, which helps to create jobs. This is important at a time when we are striving to bring Norway out of the corona crisis. With investments both in new projects and the maintenance of existing infrastructure, we are ensuring that Norway is safer, better and more environmentally friendly. In the national budget for 2021, we once again emphasise that the transport sector is important to this government. We are in the process of creating a greener future and helping people to get back to work”, says Minister of Transport Knut Arild Hareide.
The government proposes to approve in the region of NOK 80 billion for transport purposes in 2021. This is an increase of almost 8 per cent compared with the budget that was adopted for 2020, i.e. prior to that, Stortinget has on several occasions approved funds for transport measures in the state budget for 2020 as a result of the corona pandemic.
Better and safer roads
To contribute to safer and better daily travel for those who drive, cycle and walk, the government proposes to allocate in excess of NOK 36 billion for road purposes in 2021.
“Norway depends strongly on the road network and we are maintaining the tempo of road building. Many major road projects are already under construction. With the budget proposal, there will be full progress in these developments nationwide. Ongoing and future construction work will create more jobs and thus ensure that we have a robust foundation for future development”, says the Minister of Transport.
The government also proposes to allocate funds for preparatory work and potential construction start-up on several state highway sections in 2021: E18 Lysaker-Ramstadsletta, national road 4 Roa-Gran border, E39 Myrmel-Lunde, E39 Lønset-Hjelset and the crawler lane on E39 Ørskogfjellet. In addition, the following projects in Nye Veier’s portfolio may commence: E6 Kvænangsfjellet, E6 Kvithammer-Åsen, E6 Ulsberg-Vindåsliene, E6 Moelv-Roterud, E6 Roterud-Storhove, E6 Storhove-Øyer and E39 Herdal-Røyskår.
2021 will be another year with a reduction in the maintenance backlog on national roads. One key factor in achieving this is the prioritisation of improvements to many tunnels nationwide.
“The sum of many measures is making our roads increasingly safer. Our aim is to ensure safety when travelling and our vision of zero deaths and seriously injured is an important goal for us”, says Hareide.
The government is also following up the toll road agreement from 2019, and proposes to set aside more than NOK 1.4 billion to reduce tolls in several projects. This greatly benefits motorists.
The county councils are responsible for the county roads, but county roads carrying particularly heavy commercial transport are of national interest. Therefore, in 2021 the government also proposes to allocate NOK 100 million for the subsidy scheme for county roads that are vital to commercial transport.
Full progress in development projects and new, more climate-friendly trains in Trøndelag
“The government is investing in a major upgrade of the railway system. In the proposal for 2021, we have more than doubled the number of licenses since 2013. For the first time, we are proposing more than NOK 30 billion for railway development”, says the Minister of Transport and Communications.
In 2021, the government will prioritise full progress in ongoing construction projects, not least on the InterCity sections on the Vestfold line, the Dovre line and the Østfold line. The budget proposal makes it possible to commence construction of the InterCity project Kleverud-Sørli on the Dovre line.
In Trøndelag, construction work on the electrification project of the Meråker line and the Trønder line between Trondheim and Værnes is starting in earnest. In addition, 14 new bimodal train sets will be phased in to replace old diesel trains on the two lines and sections of the Røros line. The 14 hybrid trains will make train traffic in Trøndelag more environmentally friendly.
The Government prioritises full progress in the work of replacing the old signalling systems with a common digital signalling and security system for the entire railway network, known as ERTMS. This is currently Norway’s largest ICT project, and will, among other things, help to make rail traffic more reliable. Sections of the Gjøvik line and the Nordlands line will be the first in line to take ERTMS in use, in 2022.
Green future in urban areas
The government proposes to allocate NOK 6.5 billion to urban growth agreements and reward agreements in 2021.
“Our cities are growing, and we must prepare for a green future. Efficient, safe and user-adapted transport in urban areas is therefore a requirement for an increasing number of citizens.
The government’s investment in urban areas means that more people can choose green day trips and collective solutions”, says Hareide.
NOK 6 billion has been set aside to follow up urban work agreements in the four largest urban areas. The state funds will, among other things, help finance Fornebubanen in Oslo and Viken, Bybanen in Bergen, Metrobussen in Trondheim and Bussveien in Nord-Jæren.
NOK 500 million has been set aside to follow up on reward agreements in Kristiansand, Buskerudbyen, Nedre Glomma and Tromsø – including subsidies for reduced ticket prices for public transport.
Proposal to commence construction of test facilities for oil spill response
The government proposes to allocate NOK 2.6 billion for coastal projects. A large part of the funds will go to maintaining navigation equipment and improving shipping lanes. NOK 25 million has been set aside in the budget proposal, for test facilities for oil spill response technology.
“Norway will be in the driver’s seat with regard to expertise in and the development of oil spill response and in the work with marine litter. We will therefore expand the Centre for Oil Protection and Marine Environment, by establishing test facilities at Fiskebøl in Lofoten. These test facilities will develop oil spill response technology, in particular in oceans and waters in which sea ice is prevalent. With the budget proposal for 2021, we will ensure that the planning of test facilities can commence, says the Minister of Transport and Communications.
Continued investment in aviation
The government will facilitate good air passenger and freight services throughout the country and proposes to allocate about one billion kroner for aviation purposes in 2021. Just over two thirds of this goes to state purchases of regional air routes (FOT routes), mainly on the short-haul network in Western Norway and northern Norway.
“Aviation is especially important to the districts. In these areas, both individuals and businesses are often dependent on good aviation services on a daily basis. Aviation therefore contributes greatly to value creation in large areas of the country”, says Hareide.
Aviation has been greatly impacted by the corona pandemic. The government has implemented several targeted measures to counteract the negative effects. The further handling of the corona pandemic will determine whether additional measures will be necessary in 2021.
Proposal to continue the support scheme for commercial express buses
The express buses and other public transport routes that are operated on a commercial basis, in the same way as other public transport, have been affected by a significant decline in ticket revenues due to infection control measures introduced after the virus outbreak.
As a consequence of this, earlier this year Stortinget pledged NOK 100 million for commercial bus and boat routes in 2020. It is still uncertain how the virus situation and infection control measures will be next year. The government therefore proposes to continue the scheme with NOK 100 million in 2021.
Mail delivery every other weekday, newspaper delivery from Monday to Saturday
The government proposes to allocate NOK 740 million for government purchases of banking and postal services.
NOK 174 million has been proposed for newspaper distribution in areas that do not have their own newspaper delivery network. so that newspaper subscribers all over the country can receive fresh newspapers daily from Monday to Saturday. In addition, the government proposes to allocate NOK 566 million for government purchases of postal and banking services from Posten Norge AS. In 2021, this will among other things ensure postal delivery every other weekday across the country.