Hungary lowers charges for access to railway infrastructure
The Hungarian government has decided to allocate HUF 9 million to finance the reduction of charges for access to railway infrastructure. On average, carriers will pay 40% less than before. Hungary is another country that has decided to support the railway industry, which is strongly affected by the energy crisis and the significant increase in electricity prices last year.
According to the decision published on July 17, charges for access to railway infrastructure in this country will be reduced by an average of 40% this year. The Hungarian government resigns from collecting additional charges introduced to cover energy costs (in Hungary, carriers pay for traction energy to the infrastructure manager). The decision applies retroactively from January 1, and carriers will be compensated for the fees already incurred. Hungarian organizations of railway companies have been calling for the introduction of this reduction for many months, pointing out that high traction energy prices reduce the competitiveness of railways and threaten the reverse modal shift, i.e. shifting the transport of goods from rail to roads.
— We have been fighting for the abolition of the surcharge for access to the network for 1.5 years together with our member companies. Government resolution 1280/2023 (VII.17.) “on improving the competitiveness of rail freight transport and reducing network access charges” contains another important result. On the one hand, the government does not think only about one-time support. This is in line with our proposal to maintain this form of support as long as companies are dependent on energy procurement, i.e. self-purchase of energy cannot be developed. Since the outbreak of the energy crisis, we have supported and started work on the restructuring of the rail traction and non-traction electricity market to allow railway companies to purchase electricity independently of the infrastructure manager, commented Lajos Hódosi, director of the HUNGRAIL association on social media.
The possibility of reducing or suspending charging for access to infrastructure was introduced in the EU Directive 2020/1429 adopted in 2020 as part of the support package for the railway sector during the covid pandemic. Last year, the European Commission extended the validity of this directive due to a drastic increase in traction energy prices for railways, which significantly exceeded the increase in fuel prices, which resulted in a reduction in the competitiveness of rail transport compared to car transport. So far, several countries have taken advantage of the possibility of lowering access rates, e.g. Germany, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands. Poland, where infrastructure charges are among the highest in Europe and the average speed of freight trains is one of the worst, has not decided to support sustainable rail transport in this way.