• Senior EIB figure calls for distance charging

    The vice-president of the European Investment Bank (EIB) says major transport investment projects have to be accompanied by some form of road charging.

    Wolfgang Roth was speaking in Vienna last month about the proposed new tunnel under the Brenner Pass in Austria. He said “we would be lying to ourselves” to make the Brenner tunnel a top-priority project at the same time as judging road pricing in Austria to be too expensive.

    Roth said the EIB was convinced that the proposed 56km tunnel was worth building, saying that whatever it cost would be money well spent compared with the costs of congestion currently being suffered on the Inn Valley motorway. But he said a tunnel would only be effective if freight were shifted off roads not just in Germany but in other feeder countries to the Alpine passes, including the Netherlands.

    He said the Swiss had shown how it should be done: by raising the cost of its road pricing system.

    T&E policy officer Markus Liechti said: “This is a significant development. A senior figure in one of Europe’s leading lenders of money for infrastructure projects is saying that, without a comprehensive transport policy that uses instruments to obtain better transport efficiency, new infrastructure is likely to underperform, or in the worst case be a waste of money. There are lessons here for a number of proposed schemes that have not been thought through, notably the Lyon-Torino rail link.”

    Roth said the EIB would be willing to lend a third of the cost of the Brenner tunnel “if the conditions are right”.

    This news story is taken from the June 2006 edition of T&E Bulletin.