Freek van Arkel

Dutch rail freight subsidy increases by 3 million

The temporary subsidy for the promotion of rail freight will increase by 3 million euros for 2021 and the year after. Dutch State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management, Stientje van Veldhoven, will raise the subsidy ceilings to create a level playing field with Germany. Freight transport operators will also receive compensations for the 8 per cent increase in user costs compared to 2019.

According to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the subsidy limit for promoting rail freight transport in 2021 is 17,6 million euros and for 2022 17,8 million euros. In recent years this subsidy has been lower, 14.8 million in 2020 and 14.4 million in 2019.

More expensive than Germany

The ‘temporary subsidy scheme for the promotion of rail freight’ was implemented in 2019. Still, despite the compensations, there was a higher infrastructure charge for the use of train tracks in the Netherlands in 2019 and 2020, than in Germany.

According to the sector organisation RailGood, the difference was around 0.31 cents per train kilometre. Due to increases imposed by ProRail in infrastructure charges for freight train paths and stabling tracks, freight transport operators in 2020 had to pay an average of 8 per cent more than in 2019.

Modal shift

RailGood is pleased with the subsidy increase and says that it will put the Netherlands back ‘in line with Germany’. It will prevent the costs of using the Dutch railways from rising and is vital for the modal shift of freight to the rail.

The purpose of the subsidy is to stimulate rail freight and reduce road freight to make transportation more sustainable. The scheme will operate for five years until 2023. Each year has a different and determined subsidy ceiling.

Author: Esther Geerts

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