Trea­sury ‘short­chang­ing rail­ways by £800 mil­lion’

● Trans­port min­is­ter says cuts would have a ‘mas­sive im­pact’

The Scotsman - - Features - By ALASTAIR DALTON Trans­port Cor­re­spon­dent

Min­is­ters have ac­cused the Trea­sury of putting the de­vel­op­ment of Scot­land’s boom­ing rail­ways at risk by short­chang­ing them by £800 mil­lion.

The Scot­tish Govern­ment said it had been of­fered £3.4 bil­lion for im­prove­ments over the five years from 2019, but needs £4.2bn, based on cur­rent spend­ing lev­els.

Trans­port min­is­ter Humza Yousaf said it would have a “mas­sive im­pact”.

How­ever, he has not said which projects could be at risk by the pos­si­ble 20 per cent spend­ing cut. Plans in­clude new sta­tions at East Lin­ton and Re­ston on the east coast main line south of Ed­in­burgh and re-open­ing the Leven­mouth line in Fife.

Im­prove­ments are also pro­posed for Glas­gow Cen­tral and fur­ther up­grades to the In­ver­ness to Aberdeen and Perth lines for faster and more fre­quent trains.

Sco­trail’s pas­sen­ger to­tal has in­creased by one-third to 95 mil­lion a year over the last decade and is fore­cast by the firm to rise to 129 mil­lion by 2025.

The row has been trig­gered by a change in the fund­ing for­mula be­cause track owner Net­work Rail has moved from be­ing a sep­a­rate or­gan­i­sa­tion to a UK govern­ment body.

The Scot­tish Govern­ment also claimed the Trea­sury of­fer was based on the Bar-

0 The Scot­tish Govern­ment said it had been of­fered £3.4 bil­lion for im­prove­ments on the rail­ways nett For­mula, where Scot­land gets a per­cent­age of spend­ing south of the Border, rather than a higher rate agreed when Net­work Rail spend­ing was de­volved in 2006. Bor­row­ing will be re­placed by grants.

Mr Yousaf said: “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.”

The min­is­ter later tweeted: “Mas­sive im­pact. We’ll have to do de­tailed anal­y­sis but hop­ing UK Govt sees sense.”

A Trea­sury spokes­woman said: “We are dis­cussing the ap­pro­pri­ate level of fund­ing with the Scot­tish Govern­ment, who will set this out shortly through the state­ment of avail­able funds for the rail­way in Scot­land.”

She said fund­ing lev­els were de­cid­ed­bytheuk­gov­ern­ment in con­sul­ta­tion with the Of­fice of Rail and Road, the in­de­pen­dent reg­u­la­tor.

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