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The approach to highway financing is quite different from country to country, within Europe, leave alone a country like Australia that has a long history of toll acceptance among users and where real toll highways are quite common.
On the opposite (to Australia) side of the spectrum, ie no real toll system, you have countries such as Germany and Austria, where the first A-modell projects currently are at BAFO stage. In Austria, there is going to be a vignette system, ie yearly charge per vehicle no matter what road you take. But there is no talk of real toll highways.
In Spain, you have co-existing real toll (toll levied directly on the road user) and shadow toll (peaje en sombra) motorways. In the latter, the motorway owner receives the toll payment directly from the State, according to the real traffic registered.
In Ireland, a NDP (National Development Plan) was published in 1999 with the key target to improve Ireland's physical infrastructure, particularly the road national network.
In Dec. 2003, the Ministry of Finance announced a 5-year multi-annual allocation to the NRA of approx. 7 Bio and the NDP has confirmed that a significant portion of the proposed investment will be delivered through a PPP programme, with a min. indicative target for private sector investment in PPP projects of 2.35 Bio .
It is clear from the NDP that the roads sector is a PPP priority. The M3 Clonee to Kells project will stretch on almost 100 km and was won d last July by a consortium led by the Spanish company Cintra on the basis of best priced bid. Other projects, including N7 Limerick Southern ring connecting Limerick to the Dublin road, are currently in tender.
In France, we have yet another situation : it would be unthinkable that users do not pay tolls on all major motorways. With the currently on-going privatisation process of highway operators, the State is successfully having the private sector fund the budget deficit.
Among motorway operators still remaining partly public-owned, I would add to the previous quotes ASF (Autoroutes du Sud de la France) where the State still retains the majority, but Vinci already has a significant chunk. So do they for Cofiroute, which is only partly State-owned. Eiffage, teaming up with Macquarie, won the bid for APRR (Autoroutes Paris Rhin Rhône).
When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
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