The Norwegian Government released the National Transportation Plan (NTP) for the period 2018-2029 today [5 April 2017]. The new plan provides for historic level of investment into Norwegian transport infrastructure in the 12-year plan period ahead to 2029, in the region of NOK 1000 bn. (approx. euro/US$ 110 bn. / GBP 95 bn.).
The plan also outlines ambitious green targets for transportation and opens up for private finance (PPP as delivery model) for infrastructure projects. Under the "50/50" scheme the Norwegian Government also pledges NOK 24 bn. (approx. euro/US$ 2,6 bn. / GBP 2,2 bn.) to part finance a number of regional transportation schemes and infrastructure projects that potentially could see private finance as part of their delivery and capital structure.
Historic lift in investments
The NTP provides for a massive uplift in investments to modernize the Norwegian transportation system and to prepare the country for future demand. On an annual average increase is about 37% (when compared to the 2017 budget), with the Norwegian State providing approx. NOK 993 bn. combined with allocations of toll revenues of approx. NOK 131 bn., bringing the total to approx. NOK 1064 bn.
Rail winner; massive road building programme
Investments will help to solve current challenges, but a key aim of the Government is to build the future of the Norwegian transport system, also including high-speed rail and high-speed rail connections to Europe. Rail is very much the 'winner', but the NTP also provides for a massive road intervention and newbuilding programme. For the rail sector investment levels are the most significant since 1854 when the Oslo-Bergen railroad was comissioned.
In and between the largest cities the aim is to materially increase rail service, especially in the 'Inter-City' area in Eastern Norway, but also around Bergen, Trondheim and Stavanger. Significant investments will also be made in infrastructure to boost rail freight transport. Travel time and distance between regions will also be considerably reduced through ferry replacement projects and other major road interventions, the planned interventions on the E39 are particularly significant. Major Projects The NTP contemplates about 43 major road and rail projects (projects with an individual cost level in excess of NOK 3 bn.).
Major projects under the NTP and for the plan period include:
- Two joint rail/road projects: E16 Skaret – Hønefoss (road) and Ringeriksbanen (rail)
- E16 (road) and double-track Stanghelle – Arna (rail)
- Inner InterCity: Double-track to Hamar (Åkersvika), Fredrikstad (Seut) and Tønsberg by 2024. On to Sarpsborg by 2026.
- Outer InterCity: Double-track to Porsgrunn (Eidanger) by 2032 and to Halden and Lillehammer by 2034
- Service improvements in the Oslo-area, the Vossebanen, Jærbanen and Trønderbanen
- New rail tunnel under Oslo
- Construction start for Grenlandsbanen (60 km)
- Electrification of the Trønder- og Meråkerbanen
- E39 Rogfast
- E39 Ådland – Svegatjørn (Hordfast)
- E39 Ålesund – Molde (Møreaksen)
- E18 Vestkorridoren (Lysaker-Slependen)
- Stad shipping-tunnel
- Borg harbor
- Harbour and shipping-lane project Longyearbyen
- Andenes fisheries-harbour
- Relocation of Bodø airport
- New airport at Mo i Rana
Use of PPPs as delivery model
Whilst the NTP does not designate additional concrete projects for PPP delivery further to the adopted Rv3/Rv25 and the planned Rv555 and E10/Rv85 projects, the plan notably states that additional projects will be considered for PPP as a delivery model on an on-going basis in the plan period if/when that "triggers added value." That is good news for the future of PPPs in Norway in general and potential use of the model also outside of road infrastructure, not the least on the back of strong cross-partisan support in the Norwegian parliament on the vote to approve the Rv3/Rv25 on 30 March 2017.
The "50/50" scheme - potential for additional private finance?
In order to facilitate major public transport projects (and green targets) in the four largest cities in Norway partial state financing in the region of NOK 24 bn. is contemplated under the the NTP (the socalled "50/50 Scheme"). Conceivably and although a number of different models are topical, some of these projects could see private finance as part of their capital structure and delivery.
- Fornebubanen in Oslo (light rail)
- New metro-tunnel in Oslo
- Bybanen (light rail) (to Fyllingsdalen) in Bergen
- "Superbuss" stage 1 in Trondheim
- "The Bus-road" in Jæren
Other potential projects that could potentially become subject to the 50/50 scheme are:
- New light rail soluion in Nedre Romerike
- New signal and safety-systems for the Oslo metro/light rail
- Bybanen (light rail) (to Åsane) in Bergen
- "Superbuss" stage 2 in Trondheim