Rounding Up the Situation at the Borders

Border queues have improved considerably recently, but drivers still face random checks around France and the Netherlands, and almost certain queues Austria to Germany.

Also, some highlights of this weekend’s Retro Classics in Stuttgart. Very low tolerances for Luxembourg’s new speeding cameras. Big fine for serial French road toll ‘avoider’.

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ROUNDING UP THE SITUATION AT THE BORDERS

Still substantial queues Austria to Germany; holidaymakers hit hardest.

Rounding up recent border hotspots. More later. Photo Valerio Vincenzo - the Belgian-Luxembourg border, part of a series Borderline, Frontiers of Peace

Photo Valerio Vincenzo – the Belgian-Luxembourg border, part of ‘Borderline, Frontiers of Peace.’

Quite why there is still a regular border control on the E17 into Lille is not clear.

The other two checkpoints on major roads around the city in northern France were removed weeks ago, but drivers heading across the border from Kortrijk still wait a consistent twenty minutes.

Otherwise, the situation at the borders around France has – more or less – returned to how it was before the Paris Attacks last November.

However, drivers crossing from Spain, particularly on the Mediterranean coast AP-7/A9 between Barcelona and Perpignan, have seen occasional checks.

And there have been suspicious queues a few times in past weeks on the A31-A3 crossing between Metz and Luxembourg.

Happily the much-vaunted border checks by the Belgian authorities do not seem to have resulted in many delays, certainly not on the major A16-E40 motorway between Dunkirk and Ostend.

Most interesting are the controls by Dutch police, mainly on the A12-A4 between Antwerp and Bergen op Zoom but also on the A12 around Arnhem, i.e. not restricted to border points.

The place where delays are still felt on a regular basis is between Austria and Germany, especially on the A12-A93 Innsbruck-Munich and A1-A8 Salzburg-Munich.

Drivers can generally expect to wait up to fifteen minutes but that increases considerably at the busiest times.

Holidaymakers heading home from the ski slopes have been stuck for up to ninety minutes over the winter.

The A8-A3 Linz-Passau crossing is much less busy as are main road border points though we did see a half mile queue on the A7-B179 Fernpass in late February (see this map of good and bad Austria-Germany border points from ADAC).

Austria has been threatening to reintroduce checks on the A22-A13 Brenner motorway but has held off so far.

Balkans aside – there are tight controls between Hungary, Serbia and Croatia, Slovenia and Austria and Macedonia and Greece – the only other place to see major delays is Germany-Denmark.

On the big return day on Saturday 20 February for instance, @Widodh was stuck in traffic for virtually the whole 160km between Hamburg and the Danish border.

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retroc

Retro Classics Stuttgart starting today features an exhibition from photographer Jean-Pierre Hossann – who snapped the Roger Baillon collection last year – and eight select cars from the Louwman Museum in Den Haag, the world’s largest private collection. Starring is the Mercedes-Benz Nürburg 500 made for Kaiser Wilhelm II while in exile. As well as light armour it has underfloor heating and a unique communication system where instructions could be given to the chauffeur without speaking. Buttons on a console told the driver to speed up, slow down, turn right, left or stop, or go home.

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roundup: LUXEMBOURG. The Grand Duchy’s first ever fixed speed cameras caught 1650 drivers yesterday, their first day in operation. Ten cameras have been installed around the country, mainly on national roads (see the map). Ten more will be installed next year says Wort.lu. Tolerances are quite low, just 4kmh according to Wort.lu’s fine checker, e.g. 74kmh in a 70kmh zone is a €49 fine; 94kmh or more is €145; 108kmh or higher means a judge gets involved. Like neighbouring Belgium, Luxembourg is an outlier on road safety in Western Europe: 64 and 65 deaths per million inhabitants in 2014 compared to 42 in Germany. It will be interesting to see whether the new cameras make any difference. Update 18 March: total prosecutions in the first 24 hours actually reached 1887 according to Wort.lu, including a ‘surprisingly high’ number of buses and trucks. The head of one road safety group said he was ‘stunned’ by the figures given all the publicity but another said, ‘It meets what I expected. Luxembourg has the image of a lawless state in terms of excessive speeds in both domestic as well as foreign drivers. This high number is the best proof that the speed cameras were needed.’ FRANCE. A Romanian driver landed a €10,000 fine and a one year suspended sentence for an incredible 267 counts of ‘avoiding’ road tolls over a three year period. The man was arrested after apparently skidding on a wet road and crashing through a peage in the Pyrenees-Orientale region, though he eventually admitted he had done it deliberately according to Autorouteinfo.fr. He was also banned from driving in France for three years.

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