The French National Low-Carbon Strategy (SNBC) published in 2020 seems to be a halt in terms of ambition regarding the development of rail freight. However, this mode of transport has undeniable assets to play an important role in the transition to a carbon-neutral economy by 2050. In this context, the Rail Freight Development Strategy can be used to explore transition paths that will enable the sector to regain its ambition and thus help to identify the changes that need to be envisaged in its fundamental determinants/drivers in order to achieve this ambition; it can also guide the identification of the action levers to be implemented to induce these necessary changes and thus inform the decisions to be taken in order to achieve the ambition.

Key Messages

  • To set an ambitious course for the sector, the Rail Freight Development Strategy should define a modal share target for 2030 and 2050 consistent with carbon neutrality by 2050.
  • To inform the levers for achieving the objective, the strategy should explain the overall context in which the sector is evolving, in particular the transformation of types of goods, the organisation of logistics chains, expectations regarding transport services and alternative offers.
  • To guide the dynamic management of the transition in an uncertain context, the strategy should explore several alternatives and assess their impacts on rail freight development opportunities.
  • This new strategy, defined by regulatory procedure, should make it possible to open a public and parliamentary debate on the actions to be taken and the decisions to be made to support an effective increase in the modal share of rail freight by 2050.
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