€410 million German state aid for rail freight 13/08/21

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Source: European Commission


13 AUGUST 2021


On 30 July, the European Commission approved, under EU State aid rules, two German schemes supporting the rail freight sector and the long-distance rail passenger sector in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The two schemes will ensure increased public support in the form of a reduction of the charges paid by railway companies to access rail infrastructure to further encourage the shift of freight and passenger traffic from road to rail.

Whilst the first measure is aimed at passenger transport, the second measure amends an existing aid scheme of 2018 supporting rail freight operators in Germany. With an estimated budget of €410 million, the amendment increases the support approximately 98% of the infrastructure charges paid by rail freight operators during the period from 1 March 2020 to 31 May 2021. The measure follows a similar budget increase for the period from 1 June to 31 December 2021, approved by the Commission last May.

The Commission found that the measures are beneficial for the environment and for mobility, as well as proportionate and necessary to achieve the objective pursued, namely to support the modal shift from road to rail whilst not leading to undue competition distortions. Finally, the reduction of infrastructure charges is in line with Regulation (EU) 2020/1429, which allows and encourages Member States to temporarily authorise the reduction, waiver or deferral of charges for accessing rail infrastructure below direct costs. As a result, the Commission concluded that the measures comply with EU State aid rules, in particular the 2008 Commission Guidelines on State aid for railway undertakings (“the Railway Guidelines”).