French motorway toll costs will not rise by the 7-8% suggested by motorway companies but will see a “more significant” increase in 2023 than this year’s 2%, Transport Minister Clément Beaune has said.
The minister also revealed that he has asked rail operator SNCF for a price cap to control increasing train fares.
Motorway tolls have increased by 2% in 2022, considerably below the inflation rate, which was 6.2% year on year in October.
Mr Beaune, who was invited onto the Grand Jury RTL-Le Figaro-LCI political programme, said: “Every year [...] there is an increase in toll prices which is linked to inflation.”
So, next year, “there is a risk of a significant rise in tolls. In 2022 it was 2%, which is very far below the current inflation rate.
“If we applied things in an automatic fashion we could get a rise of 7-8% next year.
But, “I have always said: there will not be a 7-8% rise, it is not possible,” even though these figures have previously been suggested by motorway companies.
“There will be an increase, like there is every year, and in a world of high inflation linked to the international situation, to the war, I cannot say to motorists that there will not be a rise in prices when everything else is going up.
“The current situation must be reflected in the increase, so it will definitely be a more significant increase because inflation is higher.
“Discussions are taking place with motorway companies but we also want to encourage the ecological transition, so I cannot tell drivers that the only mode of transport that isn’t becoming more expensive is car travel, it’s not possible.”
Estimations suggest that inflation will sit between 4.2% and 6.9% in 2023.
A price cap for train tickets?
Train ticket prices are also expected to increase in 2023, but not to the same extent as the inflation rate, Mr Beaune said.
“I have asked SNCF to work over the coming days on a ‘bouclier tarifaire’ (price cap) on train fares,” he added.
This would mean that “those who need to take the train daily, those on the lowest incomes, and young people using Ouigos, for example, will be protected.”
️ Prix des billets de train : "Je travaille avec la SNCF sur un bouclier tarifaire [...] avec une hausse des billets inférieure à l'inflation", a confié Clément Beaune (@CBeaune), le ministre des Transports dans #LeGrandJury pic.twitter.com/A3jhMyLzSK— Le Grand Jury (@LeGrandJury) November 6, 2022
SNCF’s CEO Jean-Pierre Farandou already announced in mid-September that train fares would soon increase, as the operator prepares for an electricity bill of at least €1.6billion in 2023.
“If we passed this on directly to ticket prices, we would have to increase TGV fares by 10%,” he told the French Senate.
“Be assured that we will not pass on 100% of our costs to customers,” he added.