Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Pontevedra Pensées: 17.1.17

Today's post comes to you from Manchester. Or, as they say in the USA, from Manchester, England.

If you drive as much as I do in both Spain and the UK, you'll quickly notice that, whereas British motorways are dominated by trucks, Spain's autovías aren't. These clog the National or N roads, the equivalent of the UK's A roads. There are probably several reasons for this but one is surely that there are tolls on most of the autovías, turning them into autopistas. Another reason might be that the concept Time is Money might not be as well-grasped here as it is in Anglo-Saxon cultures. Where the extra cost of the tolls might well be more than offset by the factor of speedier arrival. But I'm just guessing. You have a lot of time to do this when, for example, you're stuck on the N550 to Vigo behind a truck and trailer slowly taking tons of eucalyptus trunks to a cellulose factory somewhere in Portugal. And, to your right, you can see the parallel and virtually empty AP9. Anybody got any other theories? Down in North Portugal, by the way, the contrast is even greater. Even cars tend to avoid the toll roads there, making them an absolute delight to use.

The national, regional, provincial and municipal search for new sources of revenue has led to a proposal that utility and telecommunication companies be charged for everything above and below public land - pipes, pylons and the like. The Supreme Court has blessed this idea, with a suggestion that the cost be between €3,000 and €12,000 per linear metre per year. This, of course, will end up as another fixed charge for consumers.

Which reminds me . . . . There actually is a consumers action group in Spain - FACUA - but I have the impression it's a pale shadow of those in other countries. With not much clout against, say, the monopolistic utility companies who levy massive fixed charges. That said, the group has recently inveighed against J&J for an ad for Frenadol, a cough and cold remedy, which shows a sufferer downing a sachet and then taking his kids somewhere in his car. While the small print at the bottom of the screen says This medication can cause drowsiness and driving is not recommended. I'm not sure where my sympathies lie.

To deal with this sort of action from FACUA, it's rumoured that the producers are setting up an organisation to act on their behalf. It's to be called FUCU, apparently.

You might recall there are plans to build a vast €2.2bn entertainments complex - Eurovegas - on the outskirts of Madrid, near the airport. Astonishingly, this has hit bureaucratic hurdles and planning permission has yet to be granted. I fear I might be writing this annually for the next few years.

Finally . . . An amusing video on Spain's frontiers. HT to Lenox of Business Over Tapas for this.

And 2 fotos taken from my hotel room in Campiello on Saturday morning - the first at the break of day and the second around 11am. Neither shows the snow of the previous night. By the way, these are considered foothills in Asturias:-


Sierra said...

Just driven from Murcia to Galicia - fortunately the majority of the route is toll-free - the exception being the tunnel and 50kms of autopista North of Madrid. Being toll-free plenty of lorries, and they were using the Nvi to bypass the toll section (like myself - 10 minutes extra to save €12.95 makes sense).

On a related topic - 950kms and no cars broken down on the hard shoulder - get the impression there's one every mile in UK. Because the AA, RAC, etc., are available, don't think motorists there maintain their cars

Sierra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sierra said...

P.S. Garage labour rates of £100+ per hour v. €55 per hour in Spain may be a factor

Colin Davies said...

@Sierra. I have the opposite perception of the UK. Haven't seen broken down cars for years and years. Not one in 6 hours driving on the motorways on Sunday and Monday.

I didn't think mechanic rates were that high in either country but, yes, they are surely higher in the UK. Like most labour costs. Ever been to see a lawyer . . .? Most of UK laywer friends are millionaires. Not so in Spain where lawyers are not as important as notaries. The latter, of coruse, harldy exist in Anglo Saxon countries.

Maria said...

It's my impression that many truck drivers in Spain are independent, and responsible for their own expenses. Those that run companies with more than one truck are cutting it fine between diesel costs and what they can charge their customers for transport. Therefore, they most likely tell the drivers to avoid tolls as much as possible. It seems in Spain expenses are always greater than ingresses, especially for small companies and independent workers.

Colin Davies said...

Many thanks for that observation, Maria.

Colin Davies said...

Maybe that's what they all tell the Hacienda . . .

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