State aid: Commission approves €313 million German measure to support rail passenger operators affected by the coronavirus pandemic

©European Union, 2021, Source: EC - Audiovisual Service©European Union, 2021, Source: EC - Audiovisual Service

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a €313 million German scheme to support the long-distance rail passenger sector in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. This measure follows another German scheme aimed at reducing track access charges during the period from 1 March 2020 to 31 May 2022 that the Commission approved on 30 July 2021 (SA.63635). Under the scheme, the aid will take the form of a reduction of the charges due by long-distance rail passenger operators to access rail infrastructure during the period between 1 June and 31 December 2022. The aim of the measure is to help rail passenger operators coping with the difficult situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, by preserving their competitiveness as well as the benefits of the shift of passenger traffic from road to rail achieved prior to the coronavirus pandemic. The Commission assessed the measure under EU state aid rules, in particular Article 93 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the 2008 Commission Guidelines on State aid for railway undertakings, in conjunction with Regulation (EU) 2020/1429. The Commission found that, in addition to supporting an environmental-friendly form of mobility such as rail transport, the measure is proportionate and necessary to achieve the objective pursued, namely to facilitate the modal shift from road to rail whilst not leading to undue competition distortions. On this basis, the Commission approved the scheme under EU State aid rules. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.103381 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.