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Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari has affirmed that the government will provide €170m a year to support the rail freight sector until 2024 as part of a National Rail Freight Development Strategy.
Announcing this as part of his administration’s rail freight revival plan at the start of Innovation, Transport & Logistics Week on September 13, the minister said this year’s allocation had been written into the 2021 budget. As for the next three years, there was ‘a strong commitment over a period that is completely unprecedented in the history of our country’, he suggested.
Specifically, this year’s funding will provide €70m towards wagonload services, €47m for operation of intermodal services and €15m for further development of autoroutes ferroviaires including Calais – Sète, Cherbourg – Bayonne and Perpignan – Rungis. The remaining €38m would cover ‘nearly three-quarters’ of the access charges that operators pay to SNCF Réseau.
Djebbari also signed an agreement with the 4F Alliance (Fret Ferroviaire Français du Futur), SNCF Réseau and the Professional Association of Shippers confirming the role of each organisation in implementing the National Rail Freight Development Strategy. This sets out 72 ‘concrete measures to address the sector’s principal difficulties’ and confirms that the government is committed to double rail’s share of the market from 9% currently to 18% by 2030, equivalent to about 65 billion tonne-km. Further, it aims to achieve a 25% share by 2050.
The 72 specific measures are grouped to address three main objectives:
Underlining the government’s commitment to the rail sector, Djebbari called for rail and road to work together rather than compete. He suggested that reviving the rail freight sector was an international responsibility and pointed out that a French initiative had already led to 16 EU member states making a similar commitment.
Djebbari also confirmed the launch of a Transport Innovation Agency intended to accelerate development projects. Projects to be considered under the programme’s first initiative called ‘Propulse’ should be submitted by October 15.
This article first appeared on www.railwaygazette.com
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