Freight train

EUROPE: The European Commission has begun public consultation on draft guidelines which are designed to provide a comprehensive and up-to-date set of rules for the granting of state aid for rail and other sustainable land transport modes.

The Land & Multimodal Transport Guidelines would replace the current guidelines on state aid for railway undertakings. They aim to:

  • be broader in scope, covering all land modes that are less polluting than road-only;
  • consolidate and streamline practice, with new categories of aid such as for the construction of multimodal facilities, to launch new connections and to provide reimbursement for public service obligations in the rail freight sector;
  • provide more flexible rules for aid that directly contributes to the green and digital transitions, including reducing external costs and promoting interoperability;
  • support the entry and growth of new operators, for example by easing access to finance for the purchase of rolling stock.

A Transport Block Exemption Regulation would declare certain categories of state aid to be compatible with the internal market, enabling EU member states to provide support more quickly than at present.

Adoption is planned for the end of 2025.


Executive Director of the Community of European Railway & Infrastructure Companies Alberto Mazzola said the drafts address long-standing issues that CER has campaigned on, including rail’s position as ‘the mode with the least cost to society’, specific recognition of combined transport, support for digitalisation including ERTMS and digital automatic couplers, aid for transport facilities and private sidings and the ‘long-overdue’ introduction of rules on how to design freight PSOs.

Armand Duthil of the Alliance of Passenger Rail New Entrants in Europe said ‘there are some very promising elements’, including ‘long overdue guarantees’ for SMEs buying or leasing rolling stock. However, AllRail has concerns about freight PSOs and the rules potentially allowing operational aid for incumbents starting new services.