THE state suffered a cash shortfall of almost €3m in the first year of operation of barrier-free tolling on the M50 motorway following the Government’s controversial buyout of the Westlink toll bridge.
The Comptroller and Auditor General’s annual report reveals that the state suffered a net loss of €2.8m in operating the toll up to the end of July 2009, despite recording an operational profit of almost €65m.
The loss is largely explained by having to pay €51.3m to the private firm which previously owned the Westlink toll bridge, NTR, as part of the agreement to buy out NTR’s contract to operate the toll, combined with once-off construction costs of €11.5m and €4.8m for an independent tolling review.
In addition, €5.3m in tolls remained unpaid by July 2009 with foreign-registered vehicles – the majority of them from Northern Ireland – accounting for €2.2m of the total.
However, the non-payment by Northern Ireland motorists has been addressed following an agreement between the two jurisdictions.
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