Controversial German toll system put off again

Bonn, GERMANY — German truckers a breathing a momentary sigh of relief after their transport ministry has put its controversial new toll system for heavy trucks on hold, according toAgence France Presse

After crisis talks in Berlin between Transport Minister Manfred Stolpe and Toll Collect, the private group selected to run the system, a spokesman said software necessary for the final test phase is not yet ready which will push the final test phase, expected to run for between four weeks and two months, beyond the initial November start date.

No new start date was mentioned in a joint declaration by the ministry and Toll Collect.

This is the latest in a series of costly delays and administrative blips, according to Each month the system is not up and running costs the ministry some 156 to 163 million euros (182 to 190 million dollars) in lost revenue.

The toll was designed to help Germany’s cash-strapped government maintain and build roads, bridges, railways and waterways, and to persuade transport companies to opt for less-polluting rail and river systems.

But it has been hugely controversial, notably among haulage companies that will have to pay an average 12.4 euro cents (13.5 US cents) per kilometre per truck depending on size and gas emissions.

Under the scheme, thousands of on-board units would be fitted to trucks to track their progress.

Infrared detection systems on motorways would read the license numbers of heavy vehicles and check whether they have been registered with a database, while police patrols would carry out regular spot controls.

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