The lowest crossing point of the entire central Alpine mountain range, the Brenner Pass is among the main passes of the Alps. The Brenner Motorway using this pass is one of the most important north-south connections in Europe, providing a link between Italy and Central Europe within the European motorway corridor E45.
At present, the motorway is 314 km long and provides two traffic lanes for each carriageway. Starting from the Austrian border of the Brenner Pass, it crosses the provinces of Bolzano, Trento, Verona, Mantova, Reggio Emilia and Modena. These six provinces were some of the founders of Autostrada del Brennero S.p.A. in 1961.
“The cooperation between public bodies and private investors was a novelty at the time, and the term public private partnership did not even exist,” says Walter Pardatscher, general manager and MOB. “Even then it was important to maintain a sound balance between public benefits and the profits derived from tolls.”
In the meantime, the ownership situation has changed in as much as the share of public ownership has been extended to 85%, still involving the six provinces and their capitals as well as chambers of commerce and other shareholders.
“Our managerial policy is greatly influenced by our public responsibility,” adds Mr. Pardatscher. “Our focus is on long-term sustainability rather than high profits achieved through risky investments. Our high capital share provides a sound basis, and thanks to our continuity, we are well prepared for the future.”
Operating and maintaining the Brenner Motorway is the core business of Autostrada del Brennero S.p.A., a task which involves caring for the condition of the road and its tunnels, bridges, toll collection points, service centers and other aspects. In spite of the difficult conditions resulting from frequent ice and snow, the Brenner Motorway has the lowest accident rate in the whole of Italy.
Apart from maintaining the highest standards of safety and technology, Autostrada del Brennero aims to reduce the environmental impact on residents. Continuous measurements of air pollution and the installation of noise barriers contribute to the realization of this aim. As traffic is ever-increasing, the company responsible for the operation of the Brenner Motorway is also looking for alternatives, for example in the field of intermodal transport.
The transfer of traffic from road to rail or road to water may seem to contradict the company’s needs from a profit point of view, yet it meets the overriding public interest in reducing traffic volumes. Moreover, Autostrada del Brennero S.p.A. owns a 50% share in the RTC Rail Traction Company that organizes the majority of rail traffic across the Brenner Pass.
In order to accommodate future traffic volumes and the public interest in new infrastructure projects with benefits both regarding the traffic and the work situation, Autostrada del Brennero is prepared to invest in road construction and maintenance while promoting intermodal traffic at the same time.
“We are on the verge of obtaining the required concessions,” confirms Mr. Pardatscher. “It is not possible to realize projects on a short-term basis, as it takes at least ten years between approval and realization. We want to secure our core business at least for the next 25 years so our visions will materialize.”