Image: ECR

French rail sector feels forgotten in energy crisis, needs 55 million euros

Alliance 4F (Fret Ferroviaire Français du Futur), which represents the major rail freight players in France, claims that unlike the road haulage industry, its members are being excluded from state aid to help them through the energy crisis.

“While road freight transport has received massive support from the government to the tune of 400 million euros, the rail freight sector has been left to fend for itself amid the rising cost of energy, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine,” the trade body underlined.

A sacrificed rail freight sector?

Alliance 4F explained that for the time being at least, rail companies have been excluded from a French government ‘energy resilience plan’ for individuals and businesses, despite feeling the pinch from the generalised increase in energy prices.

“With a weighted average increase of 70 per cent in the price per kWh, the sector estimates that the energy crisis will cost it 55 million euros this year. This represents almost a third of the annual amount of state aid to operators for the revival of rail freight set out in a recovery plan. This is why the sector has requested temporary aid of 55 million euros in order not to wipe out the benefits of this plan. Unfortunately, at an inter-ministerial meeting on April 7, this request was refused.”

A pillar of energy transformation

Alliance 4F noted that in September last year, the French government announced an investment of 170 million euros per year to support rail freight.

“This is an historic financial effort, after years of underinvestment but which the energy crisis threatens to reduce to nothing, even though rail transport is an asset in the ecological transition: transporting goods by rail emits nine times less CO2 than the same journey by road and 50 times less than by air, and consumes six times less energy.”

Comparable measures sought

Alliance 4F coordinator, Franck Tuffereau, commented: “The government is giving massive support to road transport. It is inconceivable that rail freight does not benefit from comparable measures.”

He concluded: “Rail transport has shown how useful it is to all and to all territories: the energy crisis should not be allowed to erase all recent efforts. The government is calling into question the chances of achieving the objective of doubling the modal share of rail freight by 2030. We deplore this and remain mobilised.”

Author: Stuart Todd

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