Treasury ‘shortchanging railways by £800 million’
● Transport minister says cuts would have a ‘massive impact’
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.