German govt says Daimler proposal would have cost $8.3b losses

February 23, 2004
By Peter Samuel

German transport minister Manfred Stolpe says that it stood to lose $8.3b (E6.5b) under the last proposal made by the Toll Collect consortium. The government announced last week it was canceling the project - to use satellite location finding to collect tolls from trucks - in the largest debacle by far in the history of new toll systems.

The government has been losing nearly $200m (E156m) per month with no tolls collected, as promised, on the 12,000km (7500mi) autobahn system.

Under its contract the consortium (DaimlerChrysler 45%, Deutsche Telekom 45%, Cofiroute 10%) was to deliver a fully operational toll system by August 31. They missed that deadline and another that they proposed in November. After that they proposed a partial system start at the end of 2004 and full toll operations a year later. Toll Collect wanted their liability for default limited to $750m (E600m) per year.

Stolpe said the strong focus of Toll Collect officials on limiting their liability for non-performance, and their insistence on a right to end the contract persuaded him they lacked confidence in their own ability to deliver a workable system.

Under the contract provisions there is a two month period before the termination becomes final. Until then there is still a remote prospect of the project being revived.

Toll Collect said in a statement after the contract termination was announced that they think their proposal is still "the best solution for the government." The statement continued: "The future-orientated Toll Collect System could be successfully implemented and operate reliably within the recommended time period. Work on the defined milestones for implementing the toll collection system will continue as planned to in any case ensure compliance with the proposed timetable."

The German transport ministry is reintroducing the sticker based 'vignette' system as an interim measure and has been in detailed discussions with Autostrade, Fela and Kapsch over use of gantry based shortrange wireless systems as used around the world for electronic tolling. TOLLROADSnews 2004-02-23

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