Scottish Government publishes its Budget – which includes £1.55 billion in rail and bus services

Improvements to the railways in Scotland are at the heart of the Budget for 2020/21.

Investing in vital public services and ending the country’s contribution to climate change are major parts of the Scottish Government’s tax and spending plans for the year ahead.

Setting out the budget, Public Finance Minister Kate Forbes announced a package of funding to accelerate Scotland’s transition to a net-zero economy, including £1.8 billion of investment in low carbon infrastructure which will help reduce emissions.

Looking to the railways and there will be an increased investment of £270 million in rail services and an additional £16 million in concessionary travel and bus services, taking total investment in rail and bus services to around £1.55 billion.

There will also be increased investment of £5.5 million in active travel.

Ms Forbes said: “The global climate emergency is at the centre of our Programme for Government and we have already put in place the most ambitious climate legislation and targets of any country. This Budget will help deliver on that wold-leading ambition.

“From increased investment in low carbon transport to funding for peatland restoration and forestry, this Budget sets out our spending plans to help us deliver the transformation we need across society to transition to net-zero.

“We have also put wellbeing firmly at the heart of this Budget to benefit as many people as possible across the country. We will do this through prioritising inclusive economic growth with the creation of high quality jobs, supporting our public services and tackling inequalities head on.”

Rail Services priorities

Scotland’s rail network is key to helping deliver a low carbon economy and decarbonising transport in Scotland. The Government says it will continue its significant investment in Scotland’s railways to support a safe and high-performing railway through the delivery of new and better services, new and refurbished trains, and substantial improvements to the infrastructure to increase capacity and reliability.

In 2020-21 it will:

  • publish an action plan to decarbonise Scotland’s railways by 2035, focusing on electrification, supported by development and testing of alternative technologies including procurement of battery electric trains and development of hydrogen powered trains;
  • continue to press the UK Government for full devolution of powers over both track and train so we can run Scotland’s railways in a way which best meets Scotland’s needs;
  • enhance the passenger experience with the completion of Glasgow’s Queen Street station, creating a 21st-century space with longer platforms and greener, faster trains;
  • develop infrastructure improvements on key routes including Aberdeen to Inverness, the Highland Main Line, the Far North Line and the West Highland Line;
  • progress schemes such as Levenmouth and Aberdeen to Central belt, bringing even more rail improvements to passengers communities and businesses;
  • continue developing future projects for the period 2019 to 2024 and beyond;
  • continue the introduction of 26 refurbished High Speed Trains to operate on inter-city routes, with 40 per cent more seats on those routes;
  • support redevelopments planned for Aberdeen, Inverness and Stirling stations and the delivery of new stations at Kintore, Dalcross, Reston and East Linton; and
  • encourage freight modal shift to rail through our work with businesses and the logistics industry.

Table 10.05: Rail Services Spending Plans (Level 3)

Level 3 2018-19
Budget
£m
2019-20
Budget
£m
2020-21
Budget
£m
Major Public Transport Projects 31.6 207.0 207.0
Rail Development 6.2 3.0 3.0
Rail Franchise 183.4 417.0 520.1
Rail Infrastructure 587.6 362.0 529.0
Total Rail Services 808.8 989.0 1,259.1
of which:
Fiscal Resource 189.6 153.0 241.1
Non-cash
Capital 619.2 836.0 1,018.0
Financial Transactions
UK Funded AME

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