I’ve racked up well over €100 in motorway tolls already. The most frustrating was having to buy an annual motorway pass in Switzerland to drive 200km on a Sunday, and then not being checked. Curses on my honesty.
On French motorways I am categorised in Classe 2 (yes it seems the bus is deemed second class even here), which makes the motorways 50% more pricey than a car.
Across Europe every country has different ways of charging road. In the UK we have an annual tax only applied to UK registered cars that want to use the roads (even to park on). Foreign lorries don’t have to pay anything to use our motorways, whereas UK trucks in France have to pay by the mile on the toll roads.
The charges are in principle to pay for the maintenance of the road, but they generate far more than is needed, and increasingly they are re-branded as deterrents for using vehicles or green taxes. At first glance it seems to make sense to discourage every mile or road use, but there’s also an argument to say once you have bought a car you (and others) should get the most of it, or moreover you should only get a car if you are going to use it a lot.
In France there is a lot of road freight despite their high speed train network. In Switzerland at Binz, I slept next to a railway siding packed with cargo carriages and I didn’t see a single lorry but that was more to do with the fact it was Sunday. Ok, I’m trying to avoid a clichés about the Swiss and their trains here, but whatever European nation’s solution you look at in Europe it feels like none of them are radical enough to achieve massive carbon savings that the transport industry needs to achieve, and that politicians aren’t determined enough to drive the degree of radical change needed (which is actually doublespeak to “electorate won’t vote for politicians who drive radical change twice”).