Highway toll group gets extension

28th January 2004, Comments 0 comments

28 January 2004 , BERLIN - Germany offered an extension of time Wednesday to a controversial company that aims to collect highway tolls by computer, mobile phone and satellite, despite the system being five months overdue. Transport Minister Manfred Stolpe said he would not be cancelling the contract this Saturday, as he had threatened to do a month ago. On Tuesday evening, the company, Toll Collect, offered to introduce a simpler version of its road-charging system at the start of 2005 and proceed to a mo

28 January 2004

BERLIN - Germany offered an extension of time Wednesday to a controversial company that aims to collect highway tolls by computer, mobile phone and satellite, despite the system being five months overdue.

Transport Minister Manfred Stolpe said he would not be cancelling the contract this Saturday, as he had threatened to do a month ago.

On Tuesday evening, the company, Toll Collect, offered to introduce a simpler version of its road-charging system at the start of 2005 and proceed to a more elaborate operation from early 2006.

Toll Collect offered to pay penalties of EUR 40 million per month if the first date was not met, and EUR 70 million monthly if it missed the second deadline. That is far more than the modest penalties it is paying currently.

The original launch date for tolls averaging 12 cents per kilometre was the last day of August 2003 after barely 15 months of development. The planning proved hopelessly optimistic.

Not only did the software not work, but it was discovered that it was comparatively easy to cheat or jam the system.

In Berlin, Stolpe said after a briefing for parliamentarians that he would be tough in fresh negotiations with Toll Collect, which is controlled by two of Germany's biggest corporations, DaimlerChrysler and Deutsche Telekom.

He warned he could still cancel the contract if the talks were not fruitful.

The tolls are a way to make foreign truck operators contribute for the wear and tear to Germany's 12,000 kilometres of autobahn. At the end of August, a flat fee, charged for a windscreen sticker, was abolished and use of the highways has been free since then.

There are no plans to introduce tolls for cars.

DPA
Subject: German news

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