State aid: Commission approves €600 million German scheme to support single wagon rail freight transport

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a €600 million German scheme to support single wagon rail freight transport. The scheme, which will run until 30 November 2025, aims at making the use of single wagon freight transport less costly, thereby contributing to the modal shift of freight traffic from road to rail. The measure is part of the Climate Action Programme 2030 of the German Federal Government. The aid will take the form of direct grants to rail freight operators active in the single wagon transport segment. The scheme intends to relieve rail freight transport companies from a part of the costs which are linked to charges for using marshalling yards and train formation facilities. Single wagon transport refers to shipments smaller than the quantity of a full train that require the switching or shunting of wagons at departure or destination stations and at any intermediate stations. It accounts for around a quarter of rail freight services in Germany. It is an important element of logistics chains across the country and plays a key role in connecting important industrial sites. Furthermore, single wagon transport supports other forms of rail freight transport, unaccompanied combined transport and full trains. The Commission considered that the measure is proportionate as the aid stays well below the maximum allowed aid intensities. The Commission found that the measure will improve the competitiveness of European railways and foster the shift of freight traffic from road to rail, in line with the EU’s environmental and transport objectives, without unduly distorting competition. On this basis, the Commission concluded that the measure is compatible with 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. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.58046 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.