French Prime Minister Jean Castex said Monday that the European country would promote “railway highways” to reduce carbon emissions. Food and other goods that are normally delivered by truck could instead be carried by freight trains.
The government would let freight trains use France’s extensive rail infrastructure for free through the end of the year. In 2021, railway fees for freight trains would be cut in half.
“This is a very strong signal the government is giving and it’s a first step in the comeback of railway freight,” Castex told reporters near Paris about the initiative. A video on Twitter shows Castex meeting with rail operators to promote the new policies.
A “fresh food train” from Paris to Perpignan in southern France is set to reopen after its closure last year, according to Castex. This line would soon connect to a broader European network between Antwerp, Belgium and Barcelona, Spain.
The SNCF, France’s national state-owned railway company, manages the country’s rail traffic. France has the second-largest railway network in Europe.
The “railway highways” initiative is the latest step the French government has taken to make the economy more eco-friendly. The pro-environment Green Party recently trounced French President Emmanuel Macron’s La Republique En Marche! party in local elections in late June, winning control of major cities such as Lyon, Bordeaux and Strasbourg.
In response to the rout by the Greens, Macron has promised 15 billion euros ($17.6 billion) in new spending to help France transition towards a greener economy. Macron has also supported a proposal to put a moratorium on new commercial zones in the outskirts of major cities.