The European Commission (EC) has approved under EU state aid rules a grant scheme that will see the Italian government make a total of €55m available to operators of intermodal terminals for purchasing new container-handling equipment.

The scheme is part of the National Plan for Complementary Investments that supplements the Italian Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR).

All operators of intermodal terminals in Italy that form part of the Trans-European Transport Network will be eligible to apply for direct grants to purchase new equipment such as gantry cranes for handling containers (transtainers), reach stackers and shunting vehicles.

The scheme runs until December 31 2026 and aims to encourage the shift of freight transport from road to rail.

The grant scheme was assessed under EU state aid rules, in particular Article 93 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

The EC found that the scheme is necessary and proportionate to support intermodal transport and to promote the use of rail, which is less polluting than road and reduces road congestion. The measure will therefore be beneficial both for the environment and transport, says the EC.

The EC also found that this state aid will have an incentive effect, as the beneficiaries would not carry out the same investment without public support.

The Commission concluded that the measure will facilitate the shift of freight from road to rail in line with the objectives of the EU Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy and of the European Green Deal, without unduly distorting competition in the single market.