France draws national plan to develop rail freight


The French state wants to reverse rail’s lost market share during the coming years. For this purpose, it developed an action plan with specific goals: doubling rail freight’s modal share by 2030 ( from 9 per cent to 18 per cent) and reaching a modal split of 25 per cent by 2050.

During the last decades, the rail freight market share in France has experienced a substantial decrease. Much of the volumes have shifted to road transportation resulting in a reverse modal shift. As a result, the French government will invest 1 billion euros in strengthening the competitiveness of rail freight operators and 170 million euros per year (until 2024) in alleviating track access charging costs.

Paul Mazataud, head of rail freight at SNCF Réseau, explained in an exclusive interview at RailFreight Live the targets of these investments. You can watch the whole interview in the video below:

Focus on various segments

The general focus of the national strategy targets the improvement of customer experience. With that being said, the French government wants to boost the responsiveness and efficiency of rail freight operators while improving infrastructure management under ordinary and extraordinary conditions. At the same time, the strategy aims to modernise and develop the railway network further by deploying ERTMS, undertaking construction that will make it friendlier to rail freight, and providing more capacity.

However, most attention will focus on three market segments: single-wagon transport, combined transport, and intermodal transport of P400 semi-trailers. These three segments are in the support agenda of many European states, and while not underdeveloped in France, they still need boosting. Out of these three, combined transport is the most critical to reinforce since, as Paul Mazataud from SNCF Réseau mentioned, the specific sector is the fastest growing in Europe currently.

Watch the whole RailFreight Live broadcast dedicated to investments in French rail freight below:

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Nikos Papatolios is editor of, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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