ITALIAN highway concessionaire Autostrada del Brennero has agreed to buy a 75% stake in open-access rail freight company InRail via its STR subsidiary.

The deal was structured as a capital increase leaving InRail’s founder shareholders with 25% and increasing capital available to the business. The agreement establishes Autostrada del Brennero as the second largest rail freight operator in Italy after Italian State Railways (FS) subsidiary after Mercitalia Logistics.

STR has been active in rail freight since the late 1990s and already owned 95.5% of Italian based Rail Traction Company (RTC) plus 50% of Munich-based Lokomotion alongside DB Cargo (30%) and Kombiverkehr (20%). Both these operators run multiple intermodal services on the Brenner route each week and RTC offers rolling road services on the Brenner route conveying entire trucks. Lokomotion offers similar services between Villach, Austria, and Italy

InRail, based in Genoa was founded in 2006 and operates around 150 trains a week in several countries outside of Italy including Slovenia and Croatia and has previously operated trains as far as France and Germany with partners. The company has more than 120 employees and a fleet of 14 Siemens Vectron (both Multi System and 3kV dc units for use in Italy and Slovenia), four Siemens Eurosprinters, and some diesel shunting locomotives.

Autostrada del Brennero, which is largely owned by local governments in northern Italy with some minority private shareholders, says the growth of its rail freight business is designed to increase the role for rail freight between Germany and Italy via the Brenner route which will benefit from the opening of the new Brenner Base Tunnel, currently under construction, and due to open in 2028.

Autostrada del Brennero has announced plans for the route to become a “green corridor” with electric and hydrogen refuelling facilities for road vehicles plus increased use of rail to avoid road freight.