The European Commission has approved under EU State aid rules a €70 million support scheme to encourage the shift of freight traffic from road to rail in the Netherlands.

The scheme, which will run from 2019 to 2023, will be open to all railway companies operating in the Netherlands that have an access agreement with the Dutch rail infrastructure manager, ProRail. The support will take the form of compensation payments to railway companies to contribute to the cost of track access charges. The rail freight companies benefiting from the scheme are expected to pass on the benefits of the aid to their customers, i.e., freight shippers, through lower prices. The Commission found that the measure provides the right incentives for achieving a modal shift from road to rail.

On this basis, the Commission concluded that the measure is compatible with EU State aid rules, in particular Article 93 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union regarding transport coordination and the Commission's Guidelines on State aid for railway undertakings. More information will be available under the case number SA.52898 in the State aid Register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

“It is very good news that the EU Commission has approved these subsidies”,
Hans-Willem Vroon.

Hans-Willem Vroon, who represents the Dutch rail freight sector though lobby organisation RailGood commented that this support scheme is very good news: "This financial aid does not pose any further conditions to the subsidy scheme. This is in line with the German subsidy scheme for track access charges. RailGood is satusfied accomplishing this important step in the process of aligning Dutch and German charges in 2019.”

The aim of the scheme is to increase rail freight volumes in the Netherlands to 54-61 million tonnes in 2030, from 42 million tonnes in 2016. This is considered an important contribution to the shift of more freight traffic to rail, an ambition pursued on a European level. With lower track access charges, rail not only competes with neighbouring countries, but also with the road. On this basis, the Commission concluded that the measure is compatible with EU State aid rules.




ORIGINALLY POSTED  (Brussels, 8 July 2019)