Blogging from the Murcia region of Spain until early June, when I return to
the Highlands of Scotland for a few months

'Fair and softly goes far' - Miguel de Cervantes

Monday, 21 July 2008

Costs of using a toll motorway in Europe

I wrote a post here a few weeks ago about my experiences travelling between Belgium and Spain (and back) in early-mid 2008 and early-mid 2007, with details of fuel, toll motorway, hotel and other sundry costs (food, etc). Since then I have noticed quite a number of viewings of that post from people in various countries who are planning journeys of their own and I thought it might be useful to provide another link to a website which will allow people to put in their own detailed itinerary, which obviously may be different from the ones I happened to use in 2007 and 2008 and with different costs.

A word of caution when using the website link which follows, though. It seems to plan routes based on the maximum use of toll-free roads, but these may not be the fastest routes, if you use an itinerary which uses toll motorways as much as possible (which I tended to do). So the costs shown in my linked article above are markedly different from what the website says you will pay. For example for a journey from Zeebrugge (Belgium) to Mazarron (Murcia, Spain) earlier this year it cost me €106.20 in tolls and approx. €219.97 for petrol, whereas the website says it should cost €55.60 in tolls and €185.90 for petrol, quite a difference! As for the difference in fuel costs, my car is a perfectly ordinary 1.6 litre (petrol) hatch, a Toyota Auris as it happens, but my tank may have been fuller when I left Zeebrugge than when I arrived in Mazarron and perhaps the website bases its calculations on cars with smaller engines or better fuel efficiency. As for the very large difference in toll fees, I assume that this is because I used the 'fastest' route, which generally makes maximum use of toll motorways - as I mentioned above, toll fees cost me €106.20 on the journey south this year and €111.50 in 2007 (same start and destination points, but a completely different route through France).

NOTE: (added 4th October 2013) The next section has been superseded by events as motorway operations in France seem to have altered in the interim, with Vinci Autoroutes assuming control of a large part of the network. From what I can see, there is no longer an English-language version of the website, it is only in French. You can however still plan flexible routes by clicking on "Preparez votre voyage" then on "Calcul d'itineraire" from the drop-down menu. You can enter more or less any start/end points, with neither necessarily being in France itself, and the system will provide estimated fuel and toll costs, together with a suggested itinerary and driving time for the journey. I used Zeebrugge (Belgium) as a start point and Mazarron (Spain) as the end point and it seemed to provide sensible routeing and cost estimates. Try it for yourself.

The link below has been disabled as it no longer works (see paragraph immediately above). Anyway (link disabled) is the website link; it is the website of the French motorway operator Autoroutes du Sud de la France, so is obviously in French, but you can access the English version by clicking on the flag at top right. Please note that if the route you want to follow (or that which your SatNav has suggested, for example), is different from the one you wish to use, there is nothing to stop you doing successive queries so that the individual cites you wish to pass through or nearby are used instead. Both the start point and the destination can be outside France, for example I tested it using Zeebrugge (Belgium) as the start-point and Mazarron (Murcia, Spain) as the end-point for the illustration I gave above. I also tested it, for example, for a journey from Calais (France) to Rome (Italy) and the route suggested takes you through Switzerland, which charges a flat annual motorway toll fee, unlike in France where tolls are charged by distance and route. In other words, the website is very flexible and you should be able to get guidance for whatever journey you want to make.

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