Italy reimburses rail freight companies for losses due to COVID-19
After the approval of recovery funds by the European Commission in June, the Italian government has implemented a scheme to compensate rail freight companies for the losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The decree was published jointly by the Ministry of Sustainable Infrastructures and Mobility and the Ministry of Economy and Finance on 16 September. Italy is among the first European countries to publish a concrete plan of this kind.
The document published by the two ministries also specifies the calculations for said refunds with regard to the month of March 2020. The formula is the following: [(train-kilometers in period 12-31 March 2019 – train kilometers in the period 12-31 March 2020)] / [(train-kilometers in March 2019 – train kilometers in March 2020)].
Italy’s refunding strategy was already approved in the Budget Law for 2021, in which the Italian government authorised the allocation of 5 million euros every year between 2021 and 2034 to help rail freight companies. Back then, Italy aimed at reimbursing companies for the economic struggles caused by the pandemic between 23 February and 31 December 2020. However, in June, the EC stated that the refunds would cover the period between 12 March 2020 and 31 May 2020.
The Commission approved the funds for Italy in June
On 20 June, the EC allocated 374 million euros to compensate rail freight transport companies for the damage suffered due to the coronavirus pandemic. The categories included in the scheme are rail freight carriers, rolling stock owners and leasers, and freight forwarders.
“The restrictions in place between 12 March and 31 May 2020 had in particular a direct negative impact on demand for rail freight transport services, due to the limited production and trade of goods transported by rail,“ said the EC back in June. Moreover, it was specified that rail freight companies had to implement enhanced sanitary and hygiene measures, resulting in additional costs.
Not only Italy
At the end of July, the Commission approved a scheme for 215 million euros to compensate Deutsche Bahn for damages suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic. Three DB subsidiaries will be the beneficiaries of the grants: DB Netz AG, DB Energie GmbH, and DB Station&Service AG. For Germany, the EC’s decision is to reimburse these companies for the losses suffered between 16 March and 31 May 2020.