THE European Commission has approved, under European Union (EU) state aid rules, a SKr 1.3bn ($US 150.64m) Swedish scheme to support both the rail freight and passenger sectors as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The financial support will be provided through a reduction of track access charges by infrastructure managers. This is designed to help prevent rail’s loss of market share against competing modes of transport and encourage a shift of freight and passenger traffic from road to rail.

The scheme will relieve rail freight and passenger operators of part of the costs linked to the infrastructure charges due for the period from March 1 2020 until September 30 this year. The Commission found that the scheme is beneficial for the environment as it supports rail and decreases road congestion.

“The measure will contribute to maintaining the competitiveness of rail compared with other modes of transport, in line with the objectives of the European Green Deal,” said Ms Margrethe Vestager, executive vice-president in charge of competition policy at the Commission. She said the Commission will continue to work with all EU member states to ensure that national support measures can be put in place as quickly and effectively as possible in line with EU rules.