France to spend EUR 7 billion on rail freight
France will invest more than USD 7 billion (USD 10 billion) to develop freight transport by rail and reduce road traffic, Ecology Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said on Wednesday.
At the crossroads between northern and southern Europe, France plans to nearly double freight transport by 2022, in particular through a system of "rail highways" for truck-carrying trains.
"It is crucial that we increase the amount of rail freight against air and road transport," Borloo told a news conference where he unveiled the plan.
The cost of the expansion will be covered by the French state, the state-owned SNCF rail operation and the RFF agency that runs France's rail infrastructure.
Aside from expanding the rail network, a new port freight service will be set up in Le Havre and La Rochelle.
The scheme is part of President Nicolas Sarkozy's 'green plan' for France that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.
Last week, Sarkozy announced a new carbon tax on businesses and individuals that will come into force in 2010 to encourage consumers to cut down their use of oil, gas and coal.