Thursday, 28 July 2011

French Ecotax truck toll appeal successful

It appears that France's distance based truck toll system is going to roll, once more.

Italian toll road operator, Atlantia, has produced a press release announcing that the French Council of State (appeal court) has overturned the decision by the lower court that had annulled the tender for the proposed "Ecotax" distance based toll for trucks to apply to government owned untolled motorways.

The Ecotax is intended to apply to all trucks over 3.5 tonnes in weight, on 12,000 km of highways and 2,000 of secondary roads, and would mean around 600,000 French trucks and 200,000 foreign trucks expected to have accounts.  The system was meant to be operational from 2013, but obviously now faces a delay of around 6 months.  Estimated revenue was around 1.2 billion Euro per annum, with charges based on distance at rates of between 8-14 Euro cents per km (US$0.11-US$0.20).

As a result, the Autostrade led consortium is the winning tenderer, as had been originally the case and confirmed the tender process was valid after previous claims of a conflict of interest between advisors RAPP Trans who were working for the government, but who had also undertaken work for Autostrade.  The contract is expected to be for 13 years and Autostrade will now be negotiating the final terms before signing the contract.

No doubt the French Government will be relieved.  The Ecotax is a new charge, so will be new revenue and the sooner it is operational the better for the government.

Of note is that the Ecotax will be a distance charge, with distances measured using GPS technology.  This will make it the third system based on GPS to charge for distance (after Germany and Slovakia), and the fifth system using GPS either to supplement another form of distance measurement (Switzerland) or as a voluntary option (New Zealand).   The objective of the French government is, in part, to rebalance demand between tolled and untolled highways, as there has been an issue of trucks choosing not to use the private and state owned toll roads in favour of the untolled parallel routes.

UPDATE:  More details on France's Ecotax here.

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