How strong is the (ring) fence?
Britain’s ‘everyday’ local transport is in line to take a large proportion of government cuts in the forthcoming Spending Review because funding for national road and rail networks is essentially ringfenced, campaigners have warned (wrote Richard Johnstone).
[Local transport ‘set to take brunt of Spending Review cuts’, Public Finance, 20 Aug 2015]
[…] Groups including the government-backed Transport for Greater Manchester and the Campaign for Better Transport have warned that what they describe as “everyday transport” could be hit by up to 40% budget cuts.
This is because funding for local roads as well as bus services, cycling and walking are set on an annual basis through funding to local government, whereas budgets for Network Rail and Highways England are agreed in five-year cycles, making them more difficult to cut. […]
But according to the Sunday Times, Network Rail has been told “to brace itself for deep spending cuts as George Osborne prepares to slash its £38.5bn budget”.
[Osborne takes knife to Network Rail budget, John Collingridge, Sunday Times, Business Section, 23 August 2015]
The owner and operator of Britain’s 20,000 miles of railway has been dragged into the Treasury’s spending review, which is demanding that non-protected departments make cuts of 25%-40%. This could mean Network Rail has to slash another £1.5bn from its budget over the next three and a half years, leading to drastic reductions in upgrades, pay, materials and even maintenance.
The state-owned company was told of the extra cuts in a letter from a senior Department for Transport (DfT) mandarin, Jeremy Rolstone. […]
There is a world of difference between ringfencing a capital budget, and ringfencing a programme of works. With Great Western modernisation having ‘eaten nearly all the pies’ in the current ‘Control Period’, the prospects for schemes like Transpennine North and Midland electrification do not look good.