The National Transport Plan (NTP) is the most important tool for long-term priorities and transport strategy in Norway. The Government now initiates work on a new NTP and suggests several important changes. The formal planning is extended from 10 to 12 years, and the plan should also have a perspective till 2050. New infrastructure projects will - as before - be an important part of the plan, but the Government wants greater attention to maintenance, climate change and use of new technology. The Government also wants to put increased emphasis on socio-economic benefits from transport projects, a separate freight strategy and a highway plan included in the new plan.
New technology in the form of ITS systems will allow for a more efficient use of existing infrastructure capacity, improve traffic flow and reduce air pollution and emissions. The Government wants to increase the implementation of ITS in the Norwegian transport sector and has asked its transport agencies for concrete advise and proposals on how this can be done. The Government also wants advice on how to remove organisational obstacles that prevents the increased use of ITS in Norway. The transport agencies will also explore whether it is useful, with a view to increase the use of ITS in Norway, to establish a multimodal digital collaboration platform that includes players from both public and private sector. In order to provide a forward-looking legal framework for the increased use of ITS in Norway, the Ministry of Transport and Communications prepared a new ITS Act that was presented to the Parliament in August 2015.
The Government has established a new limited liability company which will be in charge of the planning, construction, operation and maintenance of 530 km of the main road network. It is estimated that the development costs for the company’s projects will be NOK 130 billion. The company was established in May 2015 and will become fully operational in 2016. The company will be financed through government allocations, including grants for operating credits. Road tolls will also be part of the financing scheme for the projects in the company’s portfolio. The company is currently being set-up.
Today, there are approximately 60 road toll companies in Norway. It is the government’s objective to reduce this number significantly, to maximum five companies. The purpose of the new companies is to ensure both efficient collection of road tolls and good financial conditions for loans. There will be no changes in ownership, as the companies will be owned by county municipalities also in the future. The electronic tag provider will be separated from the toll charger companies, in order to ensure increased user friendliness. This will also allow a greater scope for specific customer friendly solutions. Whether these services should be commercialised will be evaluated.