The French government has a great idea… move food and other goods on railways instead of by truck. In moving more freight to railroads, the government can reduce the country’s carbon footprint. But the move isn’t free. There’s a reason shippers move goods by truck instead of rail, it’s cheaper.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex said the “fresh food train” linking the main wholesale market in Paris to the southern city of Perpignan would reopen after that line was closed last year, and the line would eventually be connected to a broader European line between Antwerp (Belgium) and Barcelona (Spain). He also said that two new national North-South lines would be launched.
“This is a very strong signal the government is giving and it’s a first step in the comeback of railway freight.”
To make the move financially palatable, freight trains will be able to use the country’s railway infrastructure for free until the end of the year, and at half price next year.
The lost revenue adds up to about $75 million.
Rail transport in France dropped from 45% of freight in 1974 to about 9% today. The European average is 18%.
The initiative is part of President Emmanuel Macron’s promised $17.63 billion of new funding e for a greener economy.
It’s anyone’s guess what will happen in 2022 when rail prices go back to normal. Will shippers stick to rails, or simply rehire trucks? Hmm.