fr freight train (Christophe Masse)

Photo: Christophe Masse

FRANCE: Rail freight operators are facing a catastrophic future if the government does not offer help with a massive rise in energy costs, according to industry body Fret Ferroviaire Français du Futur.

In a statement issued on December 15, the 4F Alliance called for an ‘urgent response’ to requests submitted to the government at a meeting with Transport Minister Clément Beaune on November 16.

The 4F Alliance called specifically for a cap to be set on the price of traction power at €180/MWh and for modifications to the regime covering assistance with track access charges for freight trains so that these are fully paid by government.


4F Alliance members visited Transport Minister Clément Beaune in Paris on November 16.

At his meeting with 4F members in November the minister had indicated that they would receive a response with two weeks. However, nothing had been heard by mid-December. In the meantime, the operators said they were facing an increase in traction energy charges proposed by infrastructure manager SNCF Réseau to €473·51/MWh in 2023, meaning that the charges would have multiplied by 8∙5 compared to the €56/MWh payable in 2021.

If no action is taken, the future looks unremittingly bleak, particularly for smaller operators, the 4F Alliance said, adding that ‘business continuity’ was now in question for a number of companies. It warned that lack of support was affecting the entire logistics chain, including road hauliers who use intermodal services which could see costs rise by15 to 20%.

fr freight train (Christophe Masse) (5)

Given the current state of the market, only massive intervention by the state would make it possible to double rail freight’s market share to 18% by 2030, the alliance continued. Noting that this objective had been written into climate change legislation dating from August 2021, it pointed out that the rail sector had increased its market share from 9∙6% in 2020 to 10∙7% in 2021, with intermodal traffic growing by 16%. over the same period

The 4F Alliance reiterated that rail freight requires only a sixth of the energy as road transport, while producing only a ninth of the CO2 emissions. Failure to help the rail freight sector would call into doubt the government’s commitment to decarbonising transport, it concluded.