Our round up of the week’s developments. The Belgian road toll plan (postponed), the latest in the Hungary e-toll saga (back on track) and France breathalsyers (postponed) and Parisian pedestrianisation (full steam ahead).
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National road charges postponed
The national toll-sticker plan has apparently been postponed until at least 2016. Reports last autumn said the scheme would be introduced imminently, even that widespread building works on Belgian borders were for outlets to sell the ‘vignettes’. The European Commission said the time-based toll stickers could discriminate against foreign motorists, forced to pay a higher rate than locals especially on transit journeys. It is not certain if this lies behind the rethink. The system will be deployed on all roads, controlled by NPR cameras, and depends on agreement between the three Belgian regions, Flanders, Wallonia and the Brussels City Region.
The national smog alert system came into play last Thusday. The speed limit on motorways was reduced to 90km/h (50km/h on local roads) and motorists advised to stay at home. Lack of wind caused particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide to build up. Restrictions were lifted early on Saturday morning. During that time 9,292 drivers were caught speeding!
E-toll back on track
The new e-toll system will go ahead on 1 July 2013 as planned says the Hungarian government. Plans were put into disarray in early January after the winner of the tender, Getronics, pulled out at the last minute. The government was left with either repeating the tender or building and operating the system itself. It has opted for the latter to get the system in place as quickly as possible; the projected income is a significant slice of the national budget this year. E-toll will only apply to vehicles over 3.5t but cars will be able to join voluntarily six months after it is introduced. Catch up with our previous report here.
The on again off again disposable breathalyser saga continues. Reports say the rule has been postponed again ahead of a definitive announcement in February. The requirement for all motorists to carry at least two disposable breathalysers in France came in last July, with fines applying from November, but supply problems and doubts over the units’ accuracy have so far put the law on hold.
Central Paris pedestrianisation
The stretch of road between Musee d’Orsay and Pont de L’Alma on the left bank of the River Seine in central Paris was permanently closed to cars on Monday. The famous ‘Rive Gauche’ will reopen in the Spring as a public garden. It’s the latest step in controversial plans to tackle the city’s chronic congestion, and boost tourism, including the ’Paris Plage’ artificial beach and a ban on classic cars in the city centre.
The motorways in Brittany are famously toll-free, but a single speed camera in Rennes caught 8,000 motorists a day between 22-26 January after a temporary speed restriction was poorly signed. A petition is underway to have the €1.4m in fines levied withdrawn… The Eco-tax toll for trucks, dogged by uncertainty, will start in June… Road deaths in France dropped 8% in 2012 to the lowest level since 1948 when records began.