France to Extend Plan to Boost Rail Freight, Minister Says

  • Extra 30 million euros will be spent to modernize local lines
  • Upgrading network seen having environmental benefits

France will extend a plan to renovate local rail lines used for freight and support companies investing in quieter trains.

The government will continue to spend an annual 10 million euros ($12 billion) through 2020 to local authorities and businesses to modernize lines that connect with wider roads. It will spend 20 million euros to help companies renew equipment.

“Rail freight is a priority,” Transport Minister Alain Vidalies said at a press conference on Thursday, adding that it’s also beneficial on environmental grounds.

The announcement comes two days after the French train maker Alstom SA cancelled its plan to downsize a train plant in Belfort, Eastern France after the government announced it would buy more TGV high-speed trains to keep the factory rolling. France opened up the rail-freight market to competition in 2006 to comply with European Union rules.

Vidalies also announced the state would spend 90 million euros to a SNCF subsidiary to compensate for extra charges it paid to use infrastructure. That’s on top of a 10 million-euro investment to connect harbors to train lines. In total, a sum of 150 million euros will be invested.

Rail freight has been losing share to road haulage, partly due to the state of the network, the minister said.

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