Motorway tolls

On numerous occasions in the past, we have reported on the financial state of the companies running the toll roads around Spain, with reductions in use and the subsequent losses incurred, but information released this week shows that the picture is not likely to improve any time soon, with many groups calling for the suspension of all tolls on the Spanish highway network.

Traffic using the toll roads has reduced by 30% in 2012, with 16,631 vehicles using the system, on average, each day, a figure comparable to that of fifteen years ago. Keep that figure in mind and remember that we are talking about the entire network, and compare that to a report we recently featured that shows the traffic flow around Torrevieja, with the N332 registering 33,000 movements on some days, the CV95 at Los Balcones registers 20,037 vehicles per day, whereas the CV905, known as the Crevillente road towards Quesada, registers 27,270 vehicles per day, that´s around 80,000 vehicles every day using the three main roads into and out of Torrevieja.

The lack of disposable money available to drivers, increased fuel charges and general consciousness of the financial situation has led to six toll routes facing bankruptcy. Around Madrid, the AP-41, R-3, R-4 and R-5, the AP-36, which runs between Ocaña in Toledo and La Roda in Albacete and the Cartagena to Vera route that we have also reported, have a combined debt of more than 4 billion euro.

These figures have all come to light as the Ministry of Development has hired consultants to estimate the cost of a public company taking charge of these facilities, and with some considerable risk, which would require 608.5 million euro. Of that figure, 20% of the capital, about 121.71 million euro, would be offered to builders and dealers responsible for the management of these roads.

Assuming a public company would be prepared to take the risk and come up with the cash, the development plan would have to be approved unanimously by all companies involved, although those facing bankruptcy or already going through proceedings might well jump at the chance.

Traffic on the network is still set to decline, as per the estimates of industry experts, but this decline could be absorbed over a longer period of time, as would the clearance of the 4,000 million euro debt which would be structured for payback over a thirty year period, along with another 1,200 million euro to the banks.

Despite drivers and local politicians wanted tolls removed completely, and an ever increasing call to do so, the evidence suggests that the only way the network can be sustained is by a subscription by means of use. The alternative being a massive injection of cash from the government, far more than is instantly imaginable or available, which would result in every member of society footing the bill through national tax payments.

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