Commission injects nearly half a billion into French single wagonload transport
Another incentive is added for rail companies in France and a booster for the French national rail freight development plan. Last week, the European Commission approved a 450 million euros state aid scheme to support single wagonload transport services in the country, an industry segment crucial and jeopardised currently in Europe.
The 450 million euros scheme will be implemented in France under the EU state aid rules and will have a duration of almost three years, until 31 December 2025. “The aid constitutes an effective incentive since, in the absence of public financing, the beneficiaries would not carry out activities linked to the transport of single wagons,” said the Commission, which will distribute the financing in the form of direct grants to railway undertakings.
A needle in a haystack?
Financing single wagonload transport is critical in shifting traffic from road to rail. For instance, this business segment has flourished in Switzerland despite some recent dangers in terms of profitability, which the Swiss government currently tries to address. In France, a country not nearly using as much rail freight as Switzerland, a single wagonload incentive may prove very helpful for companies.
Still, is it enough? France has launched a national rail freight development plan since mid-late 2021 that wants to see the country’s modal share doubling by 2030 from 9 per cent to 18 per cent. The government has made one billion euros available for this purpose and drew some basic action plans.
Nevertheless, the French rail freight sector thinks that this is not enough. The Alliance 4F (Fret Ferroviaire Français du Future) stressed in early 2022 that instead of 1 billion euros, 10 billion euros is needed to stimulate the rail freight and combined transport sectors up till 2030, adding that more action is required since France lags behind compared to other countries.
In this context, the Commission’s aid scheme is not a needle in a haystack. In contrast, since there is a lack of public financing, as the institution mentioned, and plans in France do not develop significantly, the multimillion support could add some value to the French rail freight sector and help companies who already do single wagonload transport substantiate and grow their business a little more.