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Toll Collect Faces "Make or Break" Decision

Deutsche Telekom and DaimlerChrysler along with the French toll-operator Cofiroute face being stripped of a German government contract because of their failure to introduce a functioning road-toll system for trucks. The consortium Toll Collect is holding crisis talks with the Transport Minister Manfred Stolpe on Monday after talks were deadlocked during the weekend. A ministry spokesman said "the outcome is still undecided and could swing either way." Last week, the consortium offered to introduce a simpler version of its road-charging system at the start of 2005 and proceed to a more elaborate operation from early 2006. The original launch date for tolls averaging 12 cents per kilometer was the last day of August 2003. The toll system, which is based on satellite monitoring technology, is designed to make foreign truck operators pay a portion of the costs for maintaining the 12,000 kilometers of autobahn.