Humza Yousaf In Plea For Political Unity Over Funding For Railways

16 October 2017, 06:35

train track

The Transport Minister is seeking cross-party support from MSPs for his call for "fair funding" for Scotland's railways.

Humza Yousaf is writing a letter to opposition parties at Holyrood urging them to join him in "standing up" for the rail network, as he voiced concern over what Scottish ministers say is a funding shortfall from the UK Government.

The Treasury last week announced that the Scottish Government will receive more than £3.6 billion over five years from 2019/20, an increase of £600 million on the previous period.

However the Scottish Government said this is a "real terms cut" that will lead to a £600 million shortfall as it needs £4.2 billion over that period.

It has argued that the current deal will do "serious damage" to Scotland's railways and future enhancement projects.

In the letter to opposition parties, Mr Yousaf will outline his concerns about the process taken by the UK Treasury and the level of funding offered.

Describing Scottish ministers' financial demands as "reasonable", he said: "The UK Government has departed from our agreed funding formula leaving Scotland's railways £600m short.

"This will undoubtedly impact upon our ability to enhance Scotland's rail network.

"It is of critical importance to Scotland's communities and businesses that we secure a fair financial settlement, which enables the Scottish rail industry to plan for the future with certainty.

"I am writing to political parties across the chamber to seek their support in calling for fair funding for our railways, I hope they will join with me in standing up for Scotland's rail network.

"I would urge the UK Government to begin serious and detailed dialogue with us on this issue as a matter of urgency."

The Treasury has said that Holyrood is being given greater control over how its rail is funded so that it can choose how best to use the money to improve the reliability of services for passengers, fund upgrades and invest in faster and more comfortable trains.

It said the Scottish Government is also receiving additional funding through the Barnett system following the UK's investment in HS2, which they have the flexibility to also spend on Scottish railways.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Elizabeth Truss said last week: ''This multibillion-pound UK Government funding is a prime example of how Scotland benefits from the UK's broad shoulders.

''Our record investment for railways across the UK means a settlement for Scotland that could improve the entire network.

''We are backing Scotland for its future success and it's now up to the Scottish Government to ensure maximum benefit for the public.''