State aid: Commission approves €3.7 million Polish aid to promote shift of freight transport from road to rail in Podkarpackie Province

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, an individual aid measure to promote the shift of freight transport from road to rail in the Polish southeastern province of Podkarpackie near the Polish Ukrainian border. In line with the goals of the European Green Deal, the Polish measure aims at contributing, through increased intermodal transport capacities, to the development of such modal shift, and to a reduction of road congestion and CO2 emissions. The aid takes the form of a €3.7 million (approximately PLN 16.8 million) direct grant to PKP LHS Sp. z o.o, part of the PKP Group, to contribute to the costs of construction of a transhipment terminal infrastructure at the PKP LHS station situated on the broad-gauge railway line No. 65 to Ukraine and to the countries that are part of the “Commonwealth of Independent States” (CIS). The overall costs of the project amount to €12.8 million (approximately PLN 57.2 million). The terminal will serve for storage and transhipment of containers and cargo between different modes of transport and between the European Economic Area standard track gauge (1,435 mm) and the broad track gauge (1,520 mm) to Ukraine, both accessible in the Wola Baranowska Station. At present, only limited transhipment services are provided at the Wola Baranowska hub, due to outdated infrastructure. In its assessment, the Commission took into consideration the suboptimal situation of the Podkarpackie Province with regard to intermodal transport and the unique character in Europe of the broad-gauge railway No. 65 as an important cargo handling line connecting Poland to the Ukrainian border. The Commission found that the aid measure promotes the shift of freight transport from road to rail. In particular, the Commission found that the support measure is necessary, as otherwise market operators would not have sufficient incentives to carry out investments into such infrastructure. It is beneficial for the environment and for mobility as it supports intermodal transport capacities, ensuring the shift to rail transport, which is less polluting than road transport, while also decreasing road congestion. Furthermore, access to the planned infrastructure will be open to all interested companies based on non-discriminatory and transparent market terms. On that basis, the Commission concluded that the individual aid measure is compatible with EU State aid rules, in particular Article 93 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union regarding transport coordination. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website in the public case register under the case numbers SA.55679 once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.