The Marco Polo grant made it possible for us to buy the ship we needed to handle more and bigger trucks
Börje Lassfolk, CEO, RG Line
Modal shift actions take freight off the roads and transfer it to other modes of transport. Road freight transport will never disappear altogether, but these actions keep road journeys as short as possible. They help reverse the trend which would otherwise see total road freight transport in Europe grow. Road freight not only pollutes the environment, but the additional congestion carries an economic cost. Congestion adds to journey times and makes logistics less predictable. This complicates supply chain management.
Modal shift projects are selected on the basis that they make economic sense in current market conditions, but need some help to get off the ground. They include the start-up of new services and significant improvements to existing services. Between 2007 and 2009, of the 70 actions which received grants, 57 were of this type. Shifting freight from road to rail has been the most common form of modal shift in this period. This type of action accounted for two-thirds of the funding granted in 2009.
Transporting goods by rail, inland waterways or short-sea shipping not only decreases pollution and avoids congested roads, but can be a means of avoiding other barriers to smooth logistics. There is increasing resistance, for example, to moving exceptional loads by road. This includes, for example, the large components which make up a wind turbine, rotor blades and turbine towers. Moving them by inland waterway and rail has an added advantage for Enercon [401 KB] of Germany.
Some European countries impose restrictions on moving freight by road over the weekend. Rail services, such as the T-Rex [395 KB] service between Belgium and Romania, can operate when trucks cannot. Congestion can also take several forms: trucks can find themselves competing for ferry space with passenger cars during the holiday season. A freight-only service [407 KB] between Spain and southern England is the answer.
Modal shift actions must lead to a shift of an average of 60 million tkm per year per contract. The threshold is only 13 million tkm if the freight is shifted to inland waterways only. A subsidy of up to 35% of the cost of the action is available, but the subsidy can never be more than €2 for each 500 tkm or 2 000 m3km shifted, and the deficit of the project. Ancillary infrastructure costs can be included up to 20% of the total eligible costs of the project. Funding is for projects lasting up to three years. Actions must cover at least two countries, either two Member States or one Member State and a nearby third country. Find out more on how to obtain this funding at 'Getting funds'.