According to Alliance 4F, major French rail freight companies offered fresh requests to Transport Minister Clement Beaune. With subsidies and expansions of current programmes, the fundamental goal of these requests is to make rail freight relatively more competitive with road transport. The group will now watch for government announcements regarding specific initiatives to promote the industry.
Over the past few years, rail freight in France has slowly but steadily increased. As 4F said, between 2020 and 2021, rail freight’s modal share increased from 9.6 to 10.7%, while combined rail-road transport grew by 16%. On the other hand, 4F has emphasised that state ais need to be maintained and all involved parties keep their obligations if they are to achieve the target of 18% of modal share in 2030.
The particulars of Alliance 4F’s requirements
Three issues were the key ones that 4F raised on November 16th. They first ask for a system to assist rail freight companies in adjusting to the rapidly rising cost of energy. Because without doing so, a significant portion of freight transit would return to the road, this is thought to be necessary. The French road freight business is currently confronted with a shortage of over 50,000 truck drivers in addition to being much less environmentally friendly.
The group also urges the government to take significant actions to advance the French rail system. In fact, one of the problems restricting the growth of rail freight today is the condition of the French rail network, which makes it difficult for rail operators to satisfy the expanding demand from shippers, according to 4F.
The third demand is for the continuation of public funding to train companies in the amount of 170 million euros annually past the current 2023 deadline. Alliance 4F requests confirmation of the recovery fund, which will be funded with one billion euros annually. Additionally, they promise that between 2023 and 2030, the government will decide on a 3.5 billion euro investment strategy for the rail freight network. Beaune added that he will go to a rail freight platform to learn more about the requirements of the sector.
Alliance 4F has made requests before, and past requests do not help with this one
Alliance 4F has already voiced dissatisfaction with the government’s approach to providing state funding for both rail and road transportation. In order to offset the increases in energy prices, the group actually requested 55 million euros from the French government in April. However, the French cabinet rejected this request.
At the time, the 4F coordinator, Franck Tuffereau, observed that the government was giving road transport huge support. That rail freight does not benefit from equivalent measures is incomprehensible. This declaration was made after the government provided 400 million euros to help road freight companies, further hurting the rail sector.