Norway to reform railway transport

Norway NSBThis month, the government presented the white paper “On the right track. Reform of the railway sector” to the Norwegian Parliament, Stortinget. The government and its co-operating political partners are in agreement on the main elements of the white paper.
“The role of the railway in the transport system is to be strengthened. With an increase in grants, clearer division of responsibilities and focus on long-term planning throughout the sector, we will lift the Norwegian railway system into the 21st century. We will maintain state ownership of the infrastructure in the reform, ensure a more long-term approach to maintenance, consolidate responsibilities and open up for competition in connection with a number of tasks in the railway sector,” Minister of Transport and Communications Ketil Solvik-Olsen said.
The government plans to establish a state-owned enterprise with the main tasks of operating, maintaining and constructing railways, as well as expediting trains. Parts of the Norwegian National Rail Administration will therefore continue as the new infrastructure enterprise, which will report directly to the Ministry of Transport and Communications. The state-owned enterprise will have a clearly-defined role as the supplier of a fully-functioning railway infrastructure.
One of the measures in the reform is to gather more governmental responsibilities in one state controlled body that does not have production tasks. The government will retain parts of the Norwegian National Rail Administration as a smaller Railway Directorate, which will report directly to the Ministry of Transport and Communications. The Railway Directorate will amongst other tasks conduct long-term planning and have the role of co-ordinator of the sector’s participants and towards other forms of public transport.
The Railway Directorate will take over or have increased responsibility for a number of tasks that are carried out by the Ministry of Transport and Communications. The Railway Directorate will assume responsibility for state procurement of passenger train services. The Railway Directorate will also be responsible for the planning and development of rail passenger and goods services, the opening of passenger train services to competition and the planning and development of new railway infrastructure.
As a step in the further work on the reform, the Ministry of Transport and Communications will evaluate a number of potential alternative models for an overall transport directorate incorporating both roads and railways.
The reform does not include plans for how the rail network or train services should be developed in the coming ahead. As a consequence of this, the reform does not include proposals on the closure of current or establishment of new train services. These questions will remain part of the four-year cycle with the National Transport Plan.


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