In an effort to reduce France’s carbon footprint, French prime minister Jean Castex vowed to develop “railway highways” to transport food and other goods which have traditionally been transported by trucks.
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, said Castex while adding, the line would eventually be connected to a broader European line between Antwerp (Belgium) and Barcelona (Spain).
“This is a very strong signal the government is giving and it’s a first step in the comeback of railway freight,” said Castex to reporters just outside Paris.
As an incentive to the move, freight trains will be allowed to use the country’s railway infrastructure for zero cost until the end of 2020; the nominal fee that they currently pay will be slashed by 50% in 2021, said Castex.
In a statement France’s Transport ministry stated these fee measures would cost $74.02 million (63 million euros) a year.
Railways have steadily lost ground to lorries in France over recent decades and account for just 9% of the freight market, compared with 45% in 1974 and a European average of 18%.
In June, French President Emmanuel Macron had promised $17.63 billion (15 billion euros) in new funding for a greener economy.