Image: Infrabel.be

Belgian minister wants ease of state aid rules for European rail

Belgian mobility minister Georges Gilkinet has asked Europe to ease state aid rules for rail transport, both for freight and for international passenger transport, including night trains. He made his plea during a meeting of European transport ministers in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

“We need to move towards less unfair competition between trains and modes of transport that use fossil fuels such as cars, trucks or planes”, Georges Gilkinet explained to his fellow ministers. He wants state aid rules for both freight and international passenger transport to be eased.

A push in the back

Easing the state aid rules necessary to give rail traffic a boost, according to the Belgian minister. This would be necessary to achieve the climate objectives, a 55 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

At the European meeting, Gilkinet also made a case for night trains. “I have asked the Commission to review the rules applicable to night trains”, he said. “The night train is useful in our fight against short commercial flights and to build a Europe for the benefit of citizens.”

No state aid

The minister pointed to the plans for a night train between Brussels and Malmö in Sweden as an example. These plans were shelved because no one was interested in operating the connection. According to action group Back on Track Belgium, the route was not attractive enough because there is no state support for the night train in Germany and Belgium.

Author: Jerom Rozendaal

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