Brisbane's Courier Mail reports that the Federal agency Infrastructure Australia has suggested that Brisbane adopt congestion pricing to help pay for a A$4.5 billion (US$4.6 billion) rail project called Cross River Rail.
"Infrastructure Australia national co-ordinator Michael Deegan said the Queensland Government should consider a parking levy and congestion charging to help fund Cross River Rail"
The response from Queensland's Transport Minister, Scott Emerson, has been to oppose the idea.
Sinn Fein's newspaper, An Phoblacht, reports that that 7 million Euros in subsidies will be provided for the concessionaires of the Limerick Tunnel and the M3 in Meath.
I wrote last year that the Limerick Tunnel may have traffic levels as low as 25% beneath the threshold required to avoid subsidies, and the M3 (the northern motorway from Dublin) has volumes 22% below that level. Limerick Tunnel is owned by the DirectRoute consortium, and M3 by Eurolink M3.
Sinn Fein is opposed to public-private partnerships and seeks the renegotiation of the contracts, but it is extremely unlikely that the concessionaires will be backing out of these unless they were paid a substantial premium. The pricing paid would have been based on gaining enough revenue to support the long run capital costs and a profit, and existing toll revenue doesn’t do that (although Sinn Fein claims a profit is being made, it will not be a return on the cost of capital).
Australian based toll concessionaire Transurban has had a good year with Melbourne's Herald Sun reporting a nearly 6% increase in revenues in the year to 30 June 2012. Total revenues are at A$943.9 million. (US$962.1 million). It publishes detailed data about its roads indicating the following:
- 8.5% increase in revenue on Melbourne Citylink in 12 months, average daily transactions up 1.6%.
- 3.1% reduction in revenue on Hills M2 Sydney in 12 months, average daily transactions down 5.1% (attributed to substantial roadworks over this period, with closed lanes and lowered speed limits making the route less attractive);
- Lane Cove Tunnel Sydney has had a 0.7% reduction in average daily transactions, but truck trips overall grew 6.7% in the latest quarter (but not car trips);
- 0.6% increase in revenue on Sydney's M1 eastern distributor in 12 months, average daily transactions up 0.7%. Although truck traffic was down 1.2% in the latest quarter;
- 5.2% increase in revenue on Sydney's Westlink M7 in 12 months, average daily transactions up 1.3%. Notable was an increase in tolled trip length by 0.6% in the latest quarter;
- 8.1% increase in revenue on Sydney's M5 South Western motorway in 12 months, average daily transactions down 0.1%, with cars down 0.4% but trucks up 1.2%. Car toll prices had been increased by nearly 16%, but not trucks;
- 5.7% increase in revenue on Virginia's Pocahontas 895 in 12 months, average daily transactions up 3.2%.
What this seems to indicate is that the jewels in the Transurban crown remain Melbourne Citylink (responsible for 50% of total group revenue) and the Westlink M7 (responsible for 21%). The Lane Cove Tunnel remains a rather lacklustre performer, as does Pocahontas 895.