State aid: Commission approves Danish scheme to promote rail transport interoperability

 The European Commission has approved under EU state aid rules a Danish scheme to support rail freight operators' investment in new on-board traffic management equipment. The scheme will contribute to making railway systems more interoperable in the EU without unduly distorting competition.

Between 2018 and 2023, all regional and long-distance rail tracks operated by the Danish State will gradually be converted to the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS), the European standard for Automatic Train Protection (ATP) that allows an interoperable railway system in Europe. ERTMS is a safety system that enforces a train's compliance with speed restrictions and signalling status. It will enable the creation of a seamless European railway system, and increase the safety and competitiveness of the European rail sector.

Conversion to ERTMS gives rise to significant transition costs for rail operators, including rail freight operators, who will have to invest in new on-board equipment compatible with the system. The Danish scheme is designed to support the cost for rail freight operators of investing in this new equipment. The state support takes the form of direct grants to be used for fitting the new equipment in eligible new locomotives, and for retro-fitting such equipment in eligible locomotives already in use.

The beneficiaries will be the locomotive operators. The total budget of DKK 55 million (around €7.4 million) will be allocated to operators already present on the Danish rail network, as well as to new operators.

The Commission assessed the compatibility of the scheme under the 2008 Commission Guidelines on state aid for railway companies. The Commission concluded that the aid granted is necessary to achieve the intended objective of promoting interoperability of railway systems in the EU, in line with the Directive on rail interoperability, and that it is proportionate, in accordance with EU state aid rules.


The European Rail Traffic Management System is a signalling system which aims to replace the different national train control and command systems currently used in Europe. Whereas national systems are non-interoperable, the deployment of the European Rail Traffic Management will enable the creation of a seamless European railway system, and increase the safety and competitiveness of the European rail sector.

The non-confidential version of this decision will be made available under the case number SA.38283 in the State Aid Register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of state aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News.


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