Scottish Transport Secretary Michael Matheson (pictured) announced the Scottish government commitment during a visit to the Freightliner Terminal in Coatbridge last week.
The fund is open to rail freight industry partners, including Network Rail and Transport Scotland, to table proposals for improvements that meet freight modal shift objectives.
Innovative proposals that meet strategic objectives without costly infrastructure upgrades, for example wagons/locomotives or other interventions, are also welcome.
Matheson said: “This government has a strong track record of support for rail freight which we are committed to taking forward over the next five year funding period. We know that rail freight and modal shift to rail reduces road congestion, improves air quality, and reduces emissions.
“Rail freight services are vital to sustainable economic growth across Scotland.This fund will support the development and delivery of strategic rail freight projects which improve capacity and capability. It aims to build on and complement our existing and future investment in Scotland’s railways.
“Working with Network Rail, we are also encouraging a sharper business-focus and setting challenging but achievable regulatory targets for freight in terms of average speed, performance and growth.”
Maggie Simpson, director general of the Rail Freight Group, added: "This commitment from Scottish government is welcome news for the rail freight industry and will allow vital upgrades to Scotland’s railways, unlocking capacity and capability for new services. This is good news for freight customers, for the Scottish economy and for the environment."
Transport Scotland will administer the fund.
A new Scottish Rail Freight Forum will also be established, including members from across the industry.