130 million state aid for Italy targets track access charges
The EU Commission has approved another state aid scheme for Italy. This time 130 million euros are reserved to support freight and passenger rail operators by partially compensating for track access charges expenses.
The measure will be implemented in the context of the Covid pandemic and follows another measure initially approved in March 2021. “It will enable Italy to relieve rail freight and commercial passenger operators of part of the costs related to track access charges from 1 January to 31 March 2022. The measure aims to support rail operators by preserving their competitiveness and the shift of traffic from road to rail achieved prior to the coronavirus pandemic,” stated the Commission.
Not the first measure
The Commission’s latest state aid scheme was preceded by a 270 million euros scheme targeting track access charges for freight and passenger rail operators in Italy back in March 2021. The two state aid measures came with a more than a year difference, in a period that the pandemic did not monopolise the interest like in the past. Nevertheless, the pandemic’s effects are still visible, if not aggravated, in combination with the war in Ukraine and relevant sanctions aftermath.
Apart from state support for track access charges, in March 2022, the Commission approved another Italian Scheme of 30 million euros, this time to facilitate the modal shift in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. The region is home to the port of Trieste in the northeast part of Italy. It is also a region that traditionally uses intermodal transport since volumes to and from the port of Trieste are transhipped between trains and sea vessels. The specific financial scheme will last until the end of 2027.
Simultaneously, the Italian railway company FS invests 160 million euros in infrastructure and 190 million euros in overland transport overall. As a result, the Mediterranean country is currently in a rail investment frenzy, with logistics growth being among the central focal points of its whole economy for the years to come. Investments combined with state support could transform the country and help rail freight companies grow substantially.