European Commission approves German scheme to cut cost of rail
The European Commission has approved the German aid scheme meant to compensate rail freight operators for up to 45 per cent of their track access charges. The scheme will support rail freight operators in Germany and effectively encourage a shift to rail, the commission concluded.
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in charge of competition policy, said: “Promoting the shift of freight transport from road to rail is one of many measures that Europe needs to take to help improve reduce our environmental footprint. The German aid scheme does exactly that – it supports this shift, ensures benefits are passed to customers and will contribute to meeting the EU’s environmental and transport objectives, without unduly distorting competition”.
The scheme is called TraFöG, translated ‘price support for freight traffic’. The track access charges will be reduced by more than 45 per cent in Germany from 1 July 2018, retroactively. To this end, the ministry supports the sector with a budget of 375 million Euros per calendar year, a fund available until 30 June 2023 and evaluated in 2021.
The German Federal Ministry for Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI), DB Netze and the Eisenbahn-Bundesamt (EBA) presented the German incentive scheme for freight operators on 5 September this year, when it was in the final phase for notification to the European Commission.
It is expected that the rail freight operators benefiting from the scheme will pass on the benefits of the aid to their customers, i.e., the freight shippers, through lower prices. Rail freight operators will be obliged to inform their customers of the fact that their track access charges have been significantly reduced, the commission pointed out.
“The Commission found that the scheme is beneficial for the environment and for mobility as it supports rail transport, which is less polluting than road transport, while also decreasing road congestion. The Commission also found that the measure is proportionate and necessary to achieve the objective pursued, namely to support the modal shift from road to rail.”