European Foundation
for the Improvement of
Living and Working Conditions

The tripartite EU agency providing knowledge to assist
in the development of better social, employment and
work-related policies

EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level policy measures

Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for measure EU-2022-38/2928 – measures in European Union

European rail transport threatened by soaring electricity prices

Country European Union , applies eu-wide (or beyond)
Time period Open ended, started on 14 September 2022
Context Green Transition, Cost of Living Crisis
Type Other initiatives or policies
Category Promoting the economic, labour market and social recovery into a green future
– Support for energy bills
Author Barbara Surdykowska and Eurofound
Measure added 17 September 2022 (updated 28 September 2022)

Background information

On 9 September 2022 the the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), together with the European Rail Freight Association (ERFA), called on the European Commission and Member States to develop a strategy to protect the European Union's modal shift targets and ensure uninterrupted, affordable energy supplies for rail transport. Both employers' organizations indicated that the ongoing crisis on European energy markets, caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, will also have a significant impact on rail transport, despite its energy efficiency. This could significantly limit not only freight transport but also access for EU citizens to passenger transport.

CER brings together 75 railway and infrastructure companies from the European Union, candidate countries (North Macedonia and Turkey), as well as from the Western Balkans, Norway and Switzerland. ERFA represents 30 rail freight carriers that operate across the entire European network.

Content of measure

The social partners indicate that the EU's Green Deal climate neutrality target foresees a greater role for railways, as set out in the modal shift targets in the EU's sustainable and smart mobility strategy. However energy accounts for around 10-20% of the cost base of railway companies and electricity prices for rail freight and passenger services doubled between 2021 and 2022, with prices up to ten times higher in some countries. In their view, rail operators will not be able to maintain their ticket prices and freight rates unless support measures such as energy price caps and state aid are introduced. They therefore call on the European Commission:

  • to introduce energy price limits for rail transport in the emergency legislation;
  • to introduce energy price caps for rail transport under emergency rules to tackle rising end-user energy costs.
  • alternatively to reduce the costs of the railway undertaking through crisis subsidy schemes (for example, lower track access charges with full compensation to the infrastructure managers);
  • to define railways as a strategic service that should be prioritized in terms of energy supply.

On the other hand, the Member States are called upon:

  • to take immediate action to ensure that energy prices do not become unsustainable in the coming weeks;
  • to ensure the adoption of a multimodal approach to support measures to avoid distortions of competition between the different modes of transport;
  • to support industry initiatives to impose an energy price cap for strategic services such as rail transport and provide flexibility in implementation with respect to the different structures of competitive national energy markets.

Use of measure


Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Applies to all workers Sector specific set of companies
Applies to all citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
Employers' organisations
No special funding required

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role No involvement Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative
Form Not applicable Direct consultation outside a formal body

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Only employers' organisations
  • Main level of involvement: EU level


It is a stand-alone initiative of two European sector employers' organizations. At present, there is no reaction from the European trade union sector organization (ETF).

Views and reactions

Employers' organizations support their own initiative. There is a lack of knowledge about trade union reactions.

Sectors and occupations

    • Economic area Sector (NACE level 2)
      H - Transportation And Storage H49 Land transport and transport via pipelines
    • Occupation (ISCO level 2)
      Labourers in mining, construction, manufacturing and transport


  • 14 September 2022: Supply and Pricing of Energy Threaten Europe’s Modal Shift Objectives (


Eurofound (2022), European rail transport threatened by soaring electricity prices, measure EU-2022-38/2928 (measures in European Union), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


Eurofound publications based on EU PolicyWatch

30 January 2023


Measures to lessen the impact of the inflation and energy crisis on citizens

Governments across the EU continue to implement policies to support citizens and businesses in the face of rising food and energy prices caused by the COVID-19 crisis and intensified by the war in Ukraine. This article summarises the policy responses as reported in Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch database from January to September 2022.


12 September 2022


First responses to cushion the impact of inflation on citizens

Although the worldwide pandemic situation had already disrupted supply chains and triggered increases in energy and food prices in 2021, the situation deteriorated in 2022 with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


12 September 2022


Policies to support EU companies affected by the war in Ukraine

This article summarises the first policy responses that governments across the EU have started to implement to support companies affected by the rising prices, and those with commercial ties to Ukraine, Russia or Belarus.


5 July 2022


Policies to support refugees from Ukraine

This article summarises the first policy responses of EU Member States, including those of the social partners and other civil society actors, enabling refugees to exercise their rights under the Temporary Protection Directive.


Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.