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Transport Infrastructure: Adequacy and Sustainability

Volume 726: debated on Thursday 19 January 2023

10. What recent assessment he has made of the (a) adequacy and (b) long-term sustainability of transport infrastructure. (903143)

In November 2020 the Government published the national infrastructure strategy that set out our long-term plans for addressing Britain’s infrastructure needs and challenges. Those plans include continued developments of our road and rail networks across the UK, including in Scotland. The levelling-up fund will play a key role in helping to reduce geographical disparities. To that end, the second round of the fund, announced today, will see £177 million awarded to Scotland, including three transport schemes.

The specific point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Gavin Newlands) a moment ago was not addressed. For years, Scotland has paid the highest track access charges of any single train operator: £354 million per year—over £200 million more than northern rail, with broadly similar services by distance travelled. Scotland is making huge strides in decarbonisation and sustainability, as well as bringing ScotRail back under public control, but this is a huge cost and reduces capacity to increase infrastructure investment. Why are Scottish taxpayers quite literally being taken for a ride by the Department for Transport compared with their counterparts across the border?

I am disappointed; I missed the hon. Lady’s thanks for the £177 million awarded to Scotland from the levelling-up fund today. It would have been nice if she had managed to recognise the fact that that money is being distributed fairly across the whole United Kingdom. Some of the issues about connectivity between England and Scotland and across the United Kingdom were addressed at length in previous questions. We are working very hard to make sure there is a successful rail network, to reduce the impacts of industrial action. On the question that the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North raised about what happens on strike days, it is very important that we have minimum service levels, and I hope the hon. Lady will support that legislation.