Highways should be managed more equitably, according to the French Senate

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A commission of inquiry into the matter in the French Senate, whose report was presented today (Friday, September 18) aims to “obtain [motorways] on the rails ”, and make them fairer for users and the State.

The report also mentions plans for the early end of motorway ownership by private companies which currently include groups such as Vinci Autoroutes and Eiffage.

The report states: “[Companies] should “share future benefits more equitably with the state and users”, and questions the privatization of highways as a whole.

He specifies: “The transfer of the motorway concession companies to the private sector was not preceded by a revision of the concession contracts, nor by a definition of the economic and financial balance of the companies, nor by a revision. relations with the State. “

Most of the highways were privatized in France in 2006, but these concessions are expected to expire between 2031 and 2036, with the government having to decide what will happen then. The report recommends renationalization.

He says the motorway companies are “generally seen as too profitable”, and in the meantime should make changes to ensure that the use of the motorways is more equitable for users.

One idea he recommends is that more environmentally friendly vehicles be charged less, whether they’re freight trucks or lighter vehicles.

The senators recommend “the acceleration of a free subscription offer for home-work journeys guaranteeing payment reductions of 30 to 50%”.

Commission rapporteur Vincent Delahaye said: “We can change prices depending on the vehicle, and daily commuting must also be among the topics discussed. [There should also be] more attractive prices for a certain number of practices which one could qualify as “virtuous”.

The report also recommends that highways should “get back on track” and be “reset”; and affirms that it was necessary “a motorway summit” organized to “finally define the financial and economic balance of the concessionary companies”, to “prepare the end of the concessions” and to “anticipate the future management of the motorways”.

Read more: Green politician supports lower French motorway tolls

“The highways belong to the State”

Senator Delahaye declared: “The end of the contracts is in 2031 and 2036. It is far enough that we stop extending it today, and [make sure we are] ready at the end of these contracts. The highways must return to being managed by the State. They belong to the state.

The report adds that there are “several models of highway management,” including different types of business-state partnerships.

Mr Delahaye said: “The profitability expected by the motorway companies is 8% … It is high compared to all the other companies. What other investments do we see that bring in 8% per year? It’s rare. These profitability levels over the entire duration of the contract will be reached around 2022. “

It is 10 years before the end of the contracts, and 16 years after the start of privatization, in particular for the companies Vinci Autoroutes and Eiffage.

By 2022, motorway dividends are expected to reach 40 billion euros, 32 billion of which will be shared between Vinci and Eiffage.

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