France to suspend track access charges

Railway undertakings in France will receive a powerful impulse from the government to relaunch their businesses. There will be zero track access charges, which will be active until the end of 2020. In order to cover these costs, the French cabinet will allocate 63 million euros.

For the coming year, the French government also plans to introduce the halved track access charges. “There are charges to access the tracks (…) that the freight trains take with the passenger trains, so we have decided that these charges should be free until the end of 2020 and reduced by half (…) in 2021. This is an extremely strong signal the government is giving and it is a first step towards what I would call the rail reconquest plan,” Le Monde quoted the words of Prime Minister of France Jean Castex declared during his visit on Monday, 27 July, to the intermodal terminal in Bonneuil-sur-Marne. Meanwhile, the chairman of the French cabinet did not specify the exact date when the mentioned decision will come into force.

Necessary flexibility

The issue of reducing the track access charges for railway operators is being discussed at the European level. In June the European Commission published the proposal for a Regulation for a sustainable rail market in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. If the draft document is adopted, the Member States and rail infrastructure managers will be able to waive or reduce track access charges. The European Rail Freight Association, an umbrella organisation of the rail freight undertakings and logistics companies, supported this proposal.

“We welcome the proposal and initiative of the European Commission. If adopted, the Regulation will provide the necessary flexibility for the Member States and infrastructure managers to take concrete actions to support the rail freight industry. Support measures such as a temporary waiving or reduction of track access charges will provide an appropriate relief during the ongoing crisis,” ERFA President Dirk Stahl noted.

Are you interested in knowing more about the track access charges? ProMedia is organising the Track Access Charges Summit 2020 to take place on 14-15 October in Riga, Latvia. Its programme is available on the event website.

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Author: Mykola Zasiadko

Mykola Zasiadko is editor of online trade magazines RailTech.com and RailFreight.com.

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