Categories: News

Motorways: towards a reduction in toll rates on certain networks?

The Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire would consider reducing the duration of concessions for certain motorway companies, whose profitability is singled out. For some, the State could request a reduction in toll rates of up to 60% on certain networks.

It’s a measure that has been talked about ever since it was introduced nearly twenty years ago. In 2006, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin endorsed the government’s decision to privatize French motorways. At the time, it was a matter of ensuring the long-term maintenance and proper functioning of the many motorways. Which cost the state too much. The unofficial reason was to allow keep the public deficit below 3%. As the Government promised at the time.

At the time, France had three motorway concession networks, which were therefore owned by the State. Out of a total of eighteen potential takeover candidates, two French companies and a Spanish company won the tender. From, Vinci manages (among other things) the former Autoroutes du Sud de la France (ASF). Eiffage the Paris-Rhin-Rhône motorway network (APRR). And finally the Spaniard Albertis the North and East France Motorway Company (SANEF).

” We were wrong “

The conditions negotiated at the time with the State were based on the profitability of the system by 2032. It was a matter of mutual agreement with the State to increase toll rates each year to allow a balance between expenditure and income at this time. But some motorway company concessions have proved to be more profitable than expected, and above all earlier. During a meeting before the Finance and Sustainable Development Committees of the National Assembly on Wednesday March 22, Bruno Le Maire admitted that the calculations made during the privatization of the motorways in 2006 had not been correct. As interest rates fell sharply, concession companies such as Vinci, Eiffage or Abertis were able to repay their investment at a lower cost, which improved their profitability. ” We were wrong “, recognized the Minister of Economy and Finance.

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A reduction in the duration of concessions and toll rates?

The Mayor therefore now plans to “shorten the duration of the concessions by a few years”. According to him, this is “the way which seems to us legally the most solid and economically the most promising”. Deadlines which could, depending on the networks concerned, be advanced ten years! Problem, the judge, could face such a measure, consider the profitability of the concessions as “reasonable”. Their early termination could force the State to grant compensation to the companies concerned.

Bruno Lemaire could also force said concessions To lower their toll rates by more than 60%. In order to realign their profitability with the forecasts made in 2006. This is the whole scandal of this affair. Toll rates continued to rise, while some concession companies were already profitable. The Minister Delegate for Transport, Clément Beaune announced the organization of “Assises des autoroutes” by this summerto study the different options and possible remedies

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