BERLIN -- Germany's government indicated on Sunday it would stick with a troubled road toll system developed by Deutsche Telekom, DaimlerChrysler and France's Cofiroute after reports the group had met a deadline for a new start date.
Handelsblatt newspaper quoted Transport Minister Manfred Stolpe as saying if the consortium, as two magazines reported, offered a firm start date in 2005 that might be enough to convince the government not to look for alternative toll providers.
"If we got a reliable promise of a deadline, that was possibly in 2005, then that can be better than moving to alternatives," Stolpe said, according to an advance copy of an interview due to appear on Monday.
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has given Toll Collect, held by Telekom, DaimlerChrysler and Cofiroute, until the end of January to say when its system could work. The toll was supposed to have started last year.
Schroeder said earlier this month there would be "hell to pay" if the consortium did not meet the deadline.
Weekly magazines Spiegel and Focus reported Toll Collect was proposing phasing in the system, which uses satellites to track truck movements and calculate bills. A slimmed down version could start on October 3, with a full version a year later.
Stolpe told Handelsblatt that as of Friday he had not heard from the consortium but indicated he would go along with the proposal, providing the government had a guarantee of higher penalty payments should a new deadline again be missed.
"It is possible that Toll Collect will come with a two stage solution. ... We will examine any phased proposal," he said.