Finance Minister Andy Kerr announced an increase in spending on the road and rail network until 2008 as part of the Scottish Executive’s three-year spending programme.
Capital spending will increase from £1.8bn to £2.2bn in 2008.
Kerr has proposed an average annual increase of 14% in the transport budget, allowing a start to be made on public transport projects such as rail links to Edinburgh and Glasgow airports, new rail routes, trams in Edinburgh as well as progress on completion of the central Scotland motorway network and construction of the Aberdeen bypass.
Part of the extra funding will be ploughed into the country’s motorway network including plans to extend the M74 through Glasgow at a cost of £500 million. Kerr said: ‘This is a budget for enterprise, opportunity and fairness and a budget that locks in sound financial management for the longer term. By 2008, our spending plans and the rigorous way we press for value for money will see growth of more than 5% in frontline services and increased productivity in our public sector.’
The RAC Foundation has welcomed the Executive’s decision to increase spending on its road infrastructure.
Head of campaigns Sue Nicholson said: ‘Transport has been the Cinderella of services for too long. Without major investment Scotland risks falling behind the rest of the UK and damaging our markets and communities. Now the Executive must concentrate on the delivery of the promised improvements and new projects. I hope the new national transport agency will also develop longer term plans for Scotland’s transport future.’
Beneficiaries of the funding will include a £140 million rail link to Glasgow airport, a £750 million project to re-introduce trams in Edinburgh and a £500 million rail link from Edinburgh’s Waverley station.