Friday 28 October 2011

India pushing untolled roads as new priority

The Times of India reports that the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (responsible for policy) has requested that the National Highways Authority of India to focus on contracting 3,000 km of untolled road projects. The focus to date has been on PPPs that are tolled or contracted, which has made an enormous difference to India's national highway network. Now the concern is on those roads that are more technically difficult to toll manually, in more rural and remote areas.  The estimated cost of construction is US$505,000-US$606,000 per km which are expected to be two lane roads.  The total budget is expected to be US$1.5 billion to spend on such projects which will be built by private contractors. 

What this ultimately will need is for India to consider how it charges use of such roads.  Simple mechanisms like vehicle registration (essential for free flow tolling, but also safety enforcement) and fuel tax will be obvious, but it should provide the basis for India to see how it can evolve tolling towards electronic free flow, and more advanced forms of road pricing in time.

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