Germans to levy fees on trucks using motorways

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BONN (Reuter) - Truck operators will have to pay up to DM2,500 ( pounds 965) a year from 1995 to use German motorways, if a cabinet ruling becomes law.

It approved a draft law implementing an agreement between Germany, the Benelux countries and Denmark under which all will introduce a road tax sticker. The law must still be approved by parliament.

Bonn intends to replace the sticker with an electronic fee-charging system by the end of the decade.

Matthias Wissmann, the transport minister, said it was conceivable that the fee system would be extended to car drivers in future.

Germany plans to introduce motorway-use fees for private motorists, similar to those already in place in Switzerland and other countries. But in the long term it wants all European Union countries to impose them together.

From 1995, fees will be levied on trucks weighing at least 12 tonnes and will vary according to their size. Truck drivers caught without the sticker could be fined up to DM10,000.

Mr Wissmann said Germany expected income of around DM700m a year from the motorway fees, which would be used for transport projects.