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Higher appropriations, no improvement in rail services

While appropriations for railway projects in the period 2000-2010 increased by 68 per cent it has not improved operational stability and management of rail traffic, the Office of the Auditor General´s audit shows. - The Ministry of Transport and Communications and Norwegian National Rail Administration must gain better control over planning, implementation and effectiveness of railway projects, says Auditor General Jørgen Kosmo.
Published 5/31/2012 12:35 PM

Document 3:13 (2011-2012) The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation of the development and renewal of railway infrastructure was submitted to the Storting on 31 May 2012.

Appropriations to the Norwegian National Rail Administration in the period 2000-2010 increased by NOK 3.9 billion (2010 NOK value). Better management of rail traffic – with reduced travel time, fewer delays and cancellations – has been the main goal of the development of the railway network.

The Office of the Auditor General’s (OAG) audit shows that conditions have not improved: In 2011 there were fewer trains on schedule, more cancellations and more hours of delay than five years earlier.

- There was an improvement from 2010 to 2011, but overall for 2006-2011, we find that rail services deteriorated instead of improving, says Kosmo.

Travel time on priority routes such as Oslo-Bergen, Oslo-Halden and Oslo-Drammen has remained virtually unchanged for the past 14 years.

The appropriations have largely been as outlined in the national transport plan for 2006-2015. Nevertheless, about 70 per cent of the investment projects have not been implemented as planned. And about 60 per cent of the projects that were started were completed later than planned. The majority of these have also become significantly more expensive than originally estimated, between 35 and 54 per cent more.

- The management of railway infrastructure measures has weaknesses. Moreover, the Ministry of Transport and Communications does not receive sufficient information to successfully manage these measures, says Kosmo.

- The Ministry of Transport and Communications should consider measures that it, along with the Rail Administration, can employ to achieve better cost control and improve planning and implementation of projects. Clear targets must be set for the effect of investments and the Rail Administration must report on the effect of implemented measures, he says.

Lack of railway engineering capacity is a major cause of delay and the failure to implement projects, including a new signalling and safety system. The OAG audit concludes that recruiting staff with this type of expertise is difficult.

The Minister maintains that larger railway appropriations will provide better rail services, but considers it unrealistic to expect that the situation will improve considerably in the short term, even though funding has increased significantly.

The document can be downloaded via the link on the right. Public institutions can order the document from the Government Administration Services, tel. (+47) 22 24 20 00, publikasjonsbestilling@dss.dep.no. Others can order it from Fagbokforlaget AS, tel. (+47) 55 38 66 00, offpub@fagbokforlaget.no.

The deferral of public access to documents prepared by or for the Office of the Auditor General in connection with Document No 3:11 (2011-2012), cf. the Act relating to the Office of the Auditor General section 18 second paragraph, is hereby set aside.

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