French Alliance 4F calls for more state support for rail freight

French Alliance 4F calls for more state support for rail freight

The French government should ensure that rail freight transport is more competitive with road transport by maintaining state support and enshrining it in law.

A representative of the Alliance 4F (Fret Ferroviaire Français du Futur), which brings together major rail freight operators in France, met with the Minister for Transport Clément Beaun last week. The meeting aimed to highlight the crucial role of rail freight in the decarbonization of the economy and green planning and to reflect on its targeted and effective promotion, especially in the current energy crisis.

The share of rail freight transport in France is gradually increasing. Between 2020 and 2021, there has been an increase from 9.6% to 10.7%, while combined rail-road transport has seen even stronger growth (+16% in volume). However, achieving the target of 18% modal share by 2030 will only be possible if state support will be maintained and if all parties involved stick to their commitments.

The Alliance 4F has presented three main demands to Minister Beaun to support the rail industry. Firstly, a mechanism to help rail freight companies cope with soaring energy prices should be created. If this does not happen, much of the freight transportation would shift back to the roads.

Additionally, there should be taken measures to improve the performance and reliability of the rail network. The Alliance has asked the Minister for a clear mandate for SNCF Réseau from the State. The state of the French rail network is in fact today one of the most limiting factors for the development of rail freight and it prevents rail companies from meeting the growing demand from shippers.

The third demand relates to the renewal of state support to rail operators of €170 million per year beyond 2023. The government should confirm the co-financing of the renewal plan of €1 billion per year and take a decision on the investment plan for the rail freight network of €3.5 billion in 2023-2030. The commitments made should be enshrined in an investment planning law that will provide the necessary transparency and long-term resources for companies in the sector to contribute to green planning.

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