German freight transport to move from road to rail

German freight transport
© iStock/scanrail

The European Commission has approved a scheme of state aid to support the transfer of German freight transport from road- to rail-based routes.

The scheme, which will support rail freight operators in taking over management of German freight transport, has an annual budget of €350 million and will run from 2018 to 2023. It forms part of a greater push across Germany and the rest of the EU to reduce road congestion and carbon emissions in order to combat climate change and global warming.

Under the German freight transport transference scheme, rail freight operators will be reimbursed by up to 45 per cent of their track access charges – the charges German rail operators must pay to access the rail network infrastructure. Operators who benefit from the scheme will be expected to pass on their savings to their freight shipping customers via lowered rates; and will be obliged to inform clients of their reduced track access charges.

Margrethe Vestager, the Commissioner in charge of competition policy, said: “Promoting the shift of freight transport from road to rail is one of many measures that Europe needs to take to help improve reduce our environmental footprint. The German freight transport aid scheme does exactly that – it supports this shift, ensures benefits are passed to customers and will contribute to meeting the EU’s environmental and transport objectives, without unduly distorting competition.”

The Commission found the proposed scheme to be beneficial both for the environment and public mobility, as it supports rail transport and by extension promotes the reduction of vehicle emissions and congestion. It was therefore determined that the scheme was both proportionate and necessary to achieve the stated goal of shifting German freight transport from road to rail; and that the plan was appropriately compliant with EU rules governing state aid. The EU’s guidelines on state aid for rail transport state: “The granting of State aid to the railway industry can be authorised only where it contributes to the completion of an integrated European market, open to competition and interoperable and to Community objectives of sustainable mobility.”

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