Subsidies for road-to-rail modal shift in Italy may be unlocked soon
The Italian Ministry of Economics and Finance (MEF) approved the final draft of the so-called FerroBonus initiative, an incentive to boost the modal shift to rail in the country. This, according to Italy’s Deputy Minister of Transport (MIT) Edoardo Rixi, will accelerate the process of making the funds available. The next step, as Rixi mentioned on Facebook, is a meeting with industry players, set for September, to understand the needs of the sector.
Already in April, the three most prominent Italian rail freight associations, FerMerci, FerCargo, and Assofer asked the MIT to reinstate the measure, which was in place since 2015. However, the FerroBonus was not paid for the period between August 2022 and August 2023. Moreover, the associations lamented the lack of communication from the MIT concerning the re-activation of the initiative. Even with this new development, for example, it is still uncertain when the payments might start. Moreover, the initiative was communicated only via Rixi’s Facebook page, without official communication from the Ministry, which is “highly unusual”, as Giuseppe Rizzi, General Manager at FerMerci highlighted. “Companies were informed about this via social media”, he added.
Lowest amount since 2018
For the period 2023-2026, the funds for the FerroBonus have been set at 22 million euros per year. This is the lowest amount since 2018, as FerMerci told RailFreight.com in mid-March. Moreover, the European Commission intervened and approved the FerroBonus in Italy until the end of 2027. One of the main complaints brought up by Fermerci is the difference in state incentives between the road and rail freight sectors. To put this in context, 25 million euros were allocated as state subsidies for the road sector just for the period between 3 October and 16 November 2022. On the other hand, the rail industry is getting 22 million on a yearly basis for the next three years.
The FerroBonus initiative
The FerroBonus initiative was approved by the EC in November 2016 to support the modal shift from road to rail. According to the MIT, the measure was addressing particularly the south of Italy, where road transport is still prevalent. The incentive is available for companies offering intermodal transport services as well as multimodal transport operators. The main requirement for companies applying for the incentive is that they have to agree to keep rail freight volumes significant and try to increase them.
The measure was extended until 2026 by the previous Italian government coalition. Moreover, the EC intervened and approved the FerroBonus in Italy until the end of 2027. The Ministry’s delays in implementing this measure are worrying the associations. The money for the incentives has already been allocated. Further hold-ups, according to the three parties, would have a serious impact on the sector.