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Portugal's Ghost Motorways

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Nowhere Roads

The thousands of kilometres of motorway Portugal has built over the past three decades have been left almost deserted by motorists who can no longer afford to pay the tolls charged.

Under the Troika bailout, Portugal has been forced to introduce charges on more than 900km of roads where there was previously none, triggering angry protests, increasing business costs and confusing tourists.

The tolls have contributed to a fall in traffic. According to Inrix, a traffic information company, overall road congestion has fallen more in Portugal than in any other European country, by 50 per cent in 2012 and 68 per cent in the first three months of this year. In 2012, car sales fell to a 27-year low.

But did Portugal actually need the motorways in the first place?

EU funding contributed to the glut of motorways. Since 1986, Portugal has received €96bn in EU structural and cohesion funds. A big share of this – about 25 per cent of regional development funds – has been invested in roads.

'Who gains from all this spending?” asks Mr Torres, looking around an almost empty motorway café. 'It’s always the same banks, the same construction companies, the same investment funds.'

No surprise there, then. LInk

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I've never been to Portugal, but I've driven thousands of kilometres in Spain and it seems that there are huge similarities, in Spain there are hundreds of miles of new motorways, virtually deserted because they built them alongside free-flowing National roads which are toll-free, where traffic travels at motorway speeds and where there are hundreds of restaurants, bars, service stations to stop at should you need to.

When the French carry out an ambitious road project, such as Millau Viaduct and the attendant motorway, it is for a purpose, to open up a new region, but in Spain it really just does seem like money spent for the sake of it.

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Its why politicians shouldn't be entrusted to make any decision, make them feel important and entitled but don't let them make any decisions (like the royals). Our idiots have made stupid decisions with the pfi, banking, property etc fiascos.

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They are looking at increasing the number of tolls here...

http://www.connachttribune.ie/breaking-news/23749-more-tolls-considered-for-galway-to-ballinasloe-motorway

More tolls considered for Galway to Ballinasloe motorway

Monday, 22 July 2013 10:00

Galway Bay fm newsroom - The cost of travelling between Galway and Ballinasloe on the motorway could increase if new tolls are introduced.

N6 Concession, which operates the M6 motorway, wants to toll ramps to capture motorists avoiding the toll of 1 euro 90, by exiting the motorway before the toll plaza.

According to today's Irish Independent, traffic volumes on the route, per day, are 6 thousand short of what was expected.

The M6 now carries an accumulated loss of 30 million euro and if the situation continues, it could default on its commercial loans.

N6 Concession, the operators of the M6 are considering introducing tolls on the off-ramps along the route, to capture motorists who try to avoid the toll plaza.

Transport Minister, Leo Varadkar has ruled out any further tolls for now and the National Roads Authority is also opposed to extra charges.

Many here have said that they would rather spend the extra on petrol going the long way than give it to the Troika. I will say that €1.90 is cheaper than paying the Troll on the 7 bridge or on the M6.

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But did Portugal actually need the motorways in the first place?

Its often said, government is good at creating jobs, not very good at creating work.

Who cares if they motorways were 'needed'. Certainly not the government. It created jobs so they can say 'unemployment is down'

Nothing else matters to them. Whether its money wasted, labour misallocated, resources squandered. If govt only provided what was needed, we could probably fire about 90% of the public sector.

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Toll booths are going to go the way of VCR shops as old school when the 118 in car modem becomes a compulsory retrofit Euro wide. And it will.!

All sorts of chargeable shit coming our way.For every single journey.

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Thing is, in Portugal it's not just the toll roads that aren't used much but the regular roads. Seriously, I've traveled on some main roads and barely seen any cars at all.

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I've never been to Portugal, but I've driven thousands of kilometres in Spain and it seems that there are huge similarities, in Spain there are hundreds of miles of new motorways, virtually deserted because they built them alongside free-flowing National roads which are toll-free, where traffic travels at motorway speeds and where there are hundreds of restaurants, bars, service stations to stop at should you need to.

When the French carry out an ambitious road project, such as Millau Viaduct and the attendant motorway, it is for a purpose, to open up a new region, but in Spain it really just does seem like money spent for the sake of it.

Some French toll roads are relatively empty though but you do get the choice of getting somewhere fast if you have to. As for Spain, try driving from Almeria to Malaga and compare the bit of the route without the Motorway to the bit with one and then tell me it's a waste of money.

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But did Portugal actually need the motorways in the first place?

Its often said, government is good at creating jobs, not very good at creating work.

Who cares if they motorways were 'needed'. Certainly not the government. It created jobs so they can say 'unemployment is down'

Nothing else matters to them. Whether its money wasted, labour misallocated, resources squandered. If govt only provided what was needed, we could probably fire about 90% of the public sector.

That would reduce the public sector from over 5 million to half a million. Which bits would you cut and how would you fund what is left? Given the experience of privatisation of other bits of the UK, what gives you reason to believe that things would be any more efficient or cheaper if the NHS was run by BUPA or if the Education system was run by Tescos?

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That would reduce the public sector from over 5 million to half a million. Which bits would you cut and how would you fund what is left? Given the experience of privatisation of other bits of the UK, what gives you reason to believe that things would be any more efficient or cheaper if the NHS was run by BUPA or if the Education system was run by Tescos?

anything that becomes financialised is doomed to overprice and ponzi.

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So those that can afford to use them can travel with ease. At least that will be nice for the officials of the IMF / EU that turn up to work out why the bailouts aren't working. They can travel up and down the country and do their bit paying off the debt.

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When the French carry out an ambitious road project, such as Millau Viaduct and the attendant motorway, it is for a purpose, to open up a new region, but in Spain it really just does seem like money spent for the sake of it.

No it is just the same in France for a lot of road building. Big construction companies get their mates in government to approve roads that are not really needed. Take the A51 project to link Grenoble with Gap/Sisteron. The national is deserted 95% of the time, there are just half a dozen weekends in the year where it is busy.

Another case is the hugely expensive Alienor pyrenean link. Underused as it doubles two other roads but a pork barrel for politician Francois Bayrou.

Both projects, along with others including a lot of TGV lines, heavily criticised by the Cour des Comptes as a total waste of money.

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Some French toll roads are relatively empty though but you do get the choice of getting somewhere fast if you have to. As for Spain, try driving from Almeria to Malaga and compare the bit of the route without the Motorway to the bit with one and then tell me it's a waste of money.

Every product and service has a price barrier. A near 70% fall in traffic only indicates that the Troika tax hikes are once again unrealistic and counter productive.

I agree it's a trade-off with motorway tolls. A constant 50 - 60 can be very fuel efficient compared with the non-toll route. Driving across France, I tend use some motorway stretches and not others. (Some motorways go a very long way round, negating the fuel advantage.)

Obviously, everyone is counting the pennies these days. Trouble is, Governments only think in millions. 'Hey, we get x-million from that, let's hike the tax and get y-million'. It never occurs to them that it never works like that.

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Every product and service has a price barrier. A near 70% fall in traffic only indicates that the Troika tax hikes are once again unrealistic and counter productive.

I agree it's a trade-off with motorway tolls. A constant 50 - 60 can be very fuel efficient compared with the non-toll route. Driving across France, I tend use some motorway stretches and not others. (Some motorways go a very long way round, negating the fuel advantage.)

Obviously, everyone is counting the pennies these days. Trouble is, Governments only think in millions. 'Hey, we get x-million from that, let's hike the tax and get y-million'. It never occurs to them that it never works like that.

That's because they have a straight line graph like this one.

U1L4b6.gif

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Every product and service has a price barrier. A near 70% fall in traffic only indicates that the Troika tax hikes are once again unrealistic and counter productive.

I agree it's a trade-off with motorway tolls. A constant 50 - 60 can be very fuel efficient compared with the non-toll route. Driving across France, I tend use some motorway stretches and not others. (Some motorways go a very long way round, negating the fuel advantage.)

Obviously, everyone is counting the pennies these days. Trouble is, Governments only think in millions. 'Hey, we get x-million from that, let's hike the tax and get y-million'. It never occurs to them that it never works like that.

default is the ONLY way forward...

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Thing is, in Portugal it's not just the toll roads that aren't used much but the regular roads. Seriously, I've traveled on some main roads and barely seen any cars at all.

Portugal is about the same size as England but only has one fifth of England's population.

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That would reduce the public sector from over 5 million to half a million. Which bits would you cut and how would you fund what is left? Given the experience of privatisation of other bits of the UK, what gives you reason to believe that things would be any more efficient or cheaper if the NHS was run by BUPA or if the Education system was run by Tescos?

Basically, id have an army of robots doing these jobs instead. Schools are obsolete, online lessons can do 90% of learning. Drones and automatons can do things like street cleaning, canteen work, driving ambulances etc etc. So not necessarily privatization as such.

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No it is just the same in France for a lot of road building. Big construction companies get their mates in government to approve roads that are not really needed. Take the A51 project to link Grenoble with Gap/Sisteron. The national is deserted 95% of the time, there are just half a dozen weekends in the year where it is busy.

Another case is the hugely expensive Alienor pyrenean link. Underused as it doubles two other roads but a pork barrel for politician Francois Bayrou.

Both projects, along with others including a lot of TGV lines, heavily criticised by the Cour des Comptes as a total waste of money.

Just to add to Davidg's post: the main alternative to the Alienor was the N10 main road (Bordeaux - Basque country). By coincidence, this has been converted to a toll motorway, with no main road alternative [1] - something that is supposed to be a strict no-no (in France, you're always supposed to have a non-toll alternative). Which means that you have less choice if you don't want to pay for the A65/Alienor.

At the same time, the promoters behind the Alienor got an unusually long concession (50+ years) and an option to dump the motorway back onto the public sector if it's not profitable enough.

Can anyone spell "rent seeking"? :)

[1] The locals in Les Landes were not amused at seeing their only main road converted to a toll road, but to no avail.

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At the same time, the promoters behind the Alienor got an unusually long concession (50+ years) and an option to dump the motorway back onto the public sector if it's not profitable enough.

Can anyone spell "rent seeking"? :)

[1] The locals in Les Landes were not amused at seeing their only main road converted to a toll road, but to no avail.

Thanks, very insteresting. Sarkozy (and Hollande) all have mates in the autoroute companies. When they were semi privatised I remember various apparatchiks picked up large shareholdings on the cheap, a bit like Soviet Russia.

Regarding the Millau bridge, it is also an underused motorway that connects nothing with nowhere. South of Paris you have Clerment Ferrand then you have to go all the way to the south coast before reaching another major population center.

There are plans to put Tulle (where I hear you ask, it is the town where Francois Hollande was mayor) on the TGV network!

Another underperforming autoroute is the Liane linking Annecy to Geneva. It is a very necessary link given the old national was congested, particularly around Cruseilles. There is an argument that it should have included a light rail link as the 25km to Geneva by rail takes around 2 hours by train!

However the pricing is so high that regular users have largely moved back to using the national. It is not helped by the Cruseilles junction which doesn't let Cruseilles residents enter to go south or people exit to Cruseilles if heading north.

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Thanks, very insteresting. Sarkozy (and Hollande) all have mates in the autoroute companies. When they were semi privatised I remember various apparatchiks picked up large shareholdings on the cheap, a bit like Soviet Russia.

Yes, how everything has changed.

Not so long ago, people recognised that a country needed infrastructure. It's one of the few reasons pay taxes.

But now roads are only seen as some kind of cash cow for politicians and private contractors.

How soon before this kind of thinking is applied to things like street lighting? I can think of lots of under-used street lighting in France . . . not just in dead end places like Millau. Why not just cut these places off the map and black them out? Good Troikanomics.

At the other end of the scale, pricing people off roads and rail isn't exactly helpful to the economy either. It totally defeats the object of building infrastructure in the first place, as the situation in Portugal shows.

For the record, I thought the TGV was pretty damn expensive in France, nice as it was. A lot cheaper in Italy. Maybe just my small sample.

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But now roads are only seen as some kind of cash cow for politicians and private contractors.

No, roads are now also seen as EVIL CARBON-SPEWING DEATH MACHINES. If you listen to the Greenist loons.

Government is inherently corrupt. The bigger it gets, the more corrupt it gets. If you want to reduce corruption, you have to reduce the size of government.

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