GERMANY: A German state aid programme designed to promote a shift of freight from road to rail has been given the go-ahead by the European Commission.

A total of €350m is being made available in 2018-23 to cover up to 45% of the track access charges paid by freight operators, who are required to pass on the benefits by lowering the prices they charge to freight shippers.

‘Promoting the shift of freight transport from road to rail is one of many measures that Europe needs to take to help improve reduce our environmental footprint’, said Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner in charge of competition policy, on December 10. ‘The German aid scheme does exactly that; it supports this shift, ensures benefits are passed to customers and will contribute to meeting the EU's environmental and transport objectives, without unduly distorting competition.’