The upcoming German foreigner toll treats resident and non-resident drivers very differently while the maximum €130 charge will just not be enough to fix the country’s ailing road network.
Also, demonstrations by farmers on roads all around France.
GERMAN FOREIGNER TOLL: DOUBLY DISCRIMINATORY
Both resident and foreign drivers have axes to grind while the current €130 maximum charge per year must rise.
The German ‘foreigner toll’ has changed so frequently throughout its difficult gestation that the latest details should come with a caution.
Considering the law has yet to pass scrutiny by the German cabinet and parliament, and the European Commission – and any legal action brought by one of the many countries opposed – it may change again yet.
One consistent feature however is that resident and non-resident drivers will be treated differently. The extent of that only become really apparent when transport minister Alexander Dobrindt revealed the draft legislation at the end of last month.
Foreign drivers will only need the vignette to drive on motorways. German drivers will need one to drive on any federal roads, i.e. the A and B road network, but they will have the charge reimbursed through lower car tax.
National roads are included to give the government the option of adding select main roads if foreign drivers desert motorways en masse, especially in border regions.
The charge will vary, up to a maximum €130 per year for the most polluting cars which, strangely, will include a 2009 VW Golf 2.0TDi. A 2013 Euro 4 VW Polo 1.2 TSi will pay just €24 per year.
Short term vignettes will cost €10 for ten days or €22 for two months. Motorbikes are exempt. Penalties start at €150 and rise to €240 for repeat offenders.
The system will be run by nearly 500 new civil servants and policed by a network of number plate recognition cameras. Drivers will be able to buy in advance over the internet, or via outlets in border areas.
Meanwhile, there is an on-going dispute about the amount of revenue the new system will raise. Dobrindt says the entire scheme will bring in €3.7bn each year – all earmarked for road improvements and maintenance – of which €700m will come from foreign drivers, less €195m in set up and admin costs.
German motoring club ADAC says the toll will more likely bring in €262m each year with running costs of nearer €300m.
Either way, even on Dobrindt’s figures, the total revenue is well short of the (conservative estimate) €5bn per year Germany needs just to maintain the existing network, not including improvements.
The proposed toll is already significantly more expensive than the maximum €100 per year Dobrindt said he had in mind just a few months ago.
European Commission: a few weeks after out-going transport commissioner Siim Kallas tweeted that the foreigner toll was ‘going in the right direction,’ the Commission reverted to its usual non-committal line at a meeting with MEPs yesterday. During a Transport & Tourism Committee hearing on road tolls in Europe, a member of the European Commission’s Directorate for Mobility and Transport said he could not take a view on ‘draft or concepts’ and would have to wait until the new law went through to take a position.
Truck tolls: plans to extend the German truck toll system were implemented today. A further 1100km of motorways will be added to the scheme from 1 July 2015. From 1 October 2015 the weight limit for trucks covered by the tolls will be reduced from 12.5t to 7.5t. From 2018 the system will apply to all federal roads. Trucks 3.5t-7.5t will not be included in either tolling scheme.
roundup: FRANCE. Farmers angry over what they see as unfair competition from countries with lower standards picketed several toll stations on motorways in the north last night: on the A16 at Boulogne, the A1 at Fresnes and A26 at Reims. Protestors demanded to see certificates of origin from trucks carrying food. Police were in attendance and general traffic was not blocked. Similar protests apparently continue today (see more from thelocal.fr).
Jaguar’s new ad ‘Alive’ – about the company’s ‘Master Service Technicians’ – was filmed on the mean streets of late-night Ljubljana. For some reason it’s approved for use all around the world, apart from the UK. Shame, it’s good.