Electricity contracts should be subject to immediate review, French railway association AFRA says. Many freight rail operators in France are struggling with rising electricity bills that threaten their viability. Infrastructure manager SNCF Réseau quadrupled traction prices in early January, and diesel locomotives are already replacing electric locomotives to lower operating costs. It is reported by Railway Supply magazine with reference to RailFreight.


At the same time, more and more trucks are taking to the roads as they remain a cheaper transport option compared to electrified rail. “The reverse modal shift has been initiated, cancelling all efforts to develop rail freight. What an aberration in the context of energy sobriety and ecological transition,” commented Alexandre Gallo, President of AFRA and CEO of DB Cargo France.

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AFRA confirmed this trend by revealing the fees that rail operators have to pay to SNCF Réseau. The traction current supply fee has quadrupled since January 1 “from €111.95 per megawatt-hour excluding taxes in 2022 to €473.51 in 2023.”

Since the end of 2020, France has focused on doubling the share of rail transport from 9 to 18 percent by 2030. To this end, the government has developed a national recovery plan, which under the current conditions seems to be moving backwards. The effort has paid off, according to AFRA, as the share of rail freight in France increased from 9.6% to 10.7% between 2020 and 2021 thanks to the contribution of private operators. However, these efforts now appear to have been in vain.

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