Scottish Ministers Demand 'Fair Funding Deal' For Railways
13 October 2017, 05:40
Scottish ministers have called for a "fair funding deal" for Scotland's railways after the UK Government announced billions of pounds worth of funding for future years.
The Treasury said 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.
The Treasury said 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: "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."
The Scottish Government said that changes due to be introduced by the UK Government in 2019 will lead to a shortfall that will have a "massive impact" on the country's railways.
Transport Minister Humza Yousaf MSP said: "This £600m shortfall will do serious damage to Scotland's railways and our future enhancement projects. The Scottish Government has taken a constructive approach simply requesting the same funding we have received previously accounting for inflation.
"We want to continue to invest in improving our rail network and services to meet future demands, but the changes to be introduced by the UK Government are putting at risk our ability to do so in full and this will have a massive impact.
"Changes due to be introduced by the UK Government in 2019 will lead to a real terms cut in Scottish Government funding for railway investment and will lead to a £600 million shortfall.
"Our minimum replacement funding requirement, to enable the efficient planning of renewal and enhancement activity in Control Period 6, is £4.2bn in total.
"This represents £1.9bn for required renewal activity as per advice from the independent Office of the Rail Regulator and £2.3bn for enhancement activity, in order to meet forecast increases in demand in rail and support wider economic growth.
"This is consistent with the funding available from borrowing in Control Period 5, which is projected to be up to £3.6bn plus inflation.
"Given this, I have taken the decision not to publish our Statement of Funds Available for Control Period 6 (2019/2024) at this time. In doing so, I wanted to reassure the people of Scotland and the rail industry that this Government remains fully committed to high quality, reliable rail services. Meantime, I will continue to press the UK Government for a fair deal for Scotland on funding for railway improvements."
Connectivity committee MSP Fulton Macgregor, SNP, said: "Given Scotland's size and geography we need a fair funding deal for our railways. That's something that all parties should get behind if they truly have Scotland's interests at heart."