TODAY: Belgian drivers reject pay-as-you-go road charging as national truck tolls get the go-ahead for 2016.
Also, there will never be a better time to drive through the City of Light than the height of summer. Riots in Calais as migrants try to control access to the lorry park. Book Brittany Ferries until November 2015.
CAR DRIVERS REJECT GPS ROAD TOLLS
Similar truck system on course to start in 2016.
Europe’s first large-scale trial of GPS-based pay-as-you-go road tolls has now finished. Nearly two thirds of those taking part said they didn’t like the system.
From February this year, 1,200 motorists, mainly in and around Brussels, paid 9c per km to drive in towns and cities, 5c on motorways and 6.5c on all other roads. The charges were logged via an on-board GPS transponder.
According to Deredactie news, a survey of participants found that 63% rejected the system with only 25% in favour.
However, the trial reduced drivers’ mileage by 5.5% overall and by 8% in cities. Rush hour congestion fell by a significant 3.6%.
A petition against the tolls has so far collected nearly 175,000 signatures. The GPS charges are designed to replace road tax and would apply to foreign drivers.
What happens next depends on the outcome of coalition negotiations following elections on 25 May. Despite the popular opposition, some form of road toll has been in the offing for some time. Two years ago, plans for a vignette were shelved after opposition from the European Commission.
The tolls could be adopted nationally, or in any or some of the country’s three regions: Flanders, in the north, the Brussels Capital Region or Wallonia. A previous poll said 49.8% of Flemings were in favour compared to 42.3% against.
Meanwhile: a contract to build a nationwide electronic truck toll system was signed in Brussels on 28 July. A consortium majority owned by Germany’s Deutsche Telekom – Satellic – will install the infrastructure over the next eighteen months. The tolls will apply to all trucks 3.5t – replacing the current 12t+ Eurovignette system – initially on major routes with the option to expand. To start with the On-Board Units (OBU) will be picked up or dropped off when entering or leaving Belgium but will eventually be interoperable with those from other countries. The charges are still to be set. See more at www.viapass.be
roundup: CALAIS. Riots broke out overnight between groups of illegal migrants, apparently over access to the lorry park at the port. More than fifty people were injured. A deadline to clear the camps was extended yesterday. The numbers of migrants has grown by 50% in the past few months with many making increasingly desperate and/or violent attempts to board trucks to the UK. Calais port has announced new security measures, including overnight surveillance. Despite widespread media coverage the ‘Enough is Enough’ campaign organised by truckers has so far attracted only 3,000 signatures, see below. BRITTANY FERRIES’ routes are now available to book right up until November 2015. The Western Channel operator, to France and Spain, published its new timetables today.
GIBRALTAR FRONTIER WATCH: quiet overnight. 60mins at 14:20CET, up to 1h30 early evening.
CONDOR FERRIES rescheduled services. Commodore Clipper out of action until 26 August.