State aid: Commission approves €234 million Polish scheme supporting lower noise reduction of rail freight transport

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, an aid scheme to support noise reduction of rail freight traffic in Poland. The aid has an overall budget of PLN 1 billion (approximately €234 million). It will be granted through a reimbursement of up to 50% of the cost of equipping rail freight wagons operating in Poland, which have been put into circulation before 1 January 2015 with less noisy brake blocks. This retrofitting will allow older wagons to have lower noise emissions. The scheme is open to all railway companies and owners of wagons established in the European Economic Area, which are entered into the Polish national vehicle register and operating freight transport on the Polish railway network. The aid will be granted on non‑discriminatory terms. The Commission found that the measure is necessary as, absent the support, railway companies and owners of existing freight wagons would not have sufficient incentives to carry out the retrofitting. On this basis, the Commission concluded that the measure is compatible with EU State aid rules, in particular the Commission Guidelines on State aid for railway undertakings. More information will be available on the Commission’s competitionwebsite in the public case register under the case number SA.55443 once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.