EU Approves €511M Italian Scheme For Rail Operators

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, €511 million (US$609.67 million) in Italian support to compensate providers of commercial, long-distance rail passenger services for the damage suffered between March 8 and June 30, 2020, due to the coronavirus outbreak and the restrictive measures that Italy had to implement to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said, “Competition in the high-speed segment in Italy has been key to develop services with more capacity, frequency and connections, leading to lower prices and better quality for consumers. This €511 million aid measure will enable Italy to support long-distance rail passenger operators on commercial lines in these difficult times, by compensating them for the damage suffered as a result of the emergency measures that Italy put in place during the first wave of the pandemic. We continue to work with all Member States to ensure that national support measures can be put in place as quickly and effectively as possible, in line with EU rules.”

In the period between March 8 and June 30, 2020, the Italian government put in place an array of measures that were necessary to limit the spread of the coronavirus, including, until June 3, 2020, a general prohibition to travel across regions. Further restrictions remained in place also in June, in particular a mandatory staggered seating reservation system that cut available seats by 50%. Those mandatory restrictions severely affected long-distance rail passenger transport providers.