INFRASTRUCTURE

R2 becomes last of Madrid’s radial toll-roads to go under

Company holding the operating license calls in receivers

Former Prime Minister José María Aznar (c) handing the keys of the R2 highway to former Madrid Mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón.
Former Prime Minister José María Aznar (c) handing the keys of the R2 highway to former Madrid Mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón. RICARDO GUTIÉRREZ

The R2, the radial toll-road linking Madrid to Guadalajara, has become the last of the highways set up under the former government of Prime Minister José María Aznar to seek protection from its creditors.

Autopista del Henares, the company that operates the R2 radial, lost 16 million euros in 2012 and has debts of 360 million. A significant part of that debt is owed to the government, which, since the current crisis broke in 2008, has injected 284 million euros into the company to keep it afloat.

Autopista del Henares is controlled by leading construction group ACS and toll-road operator Abertis, with stakes of 35 and 30 percent, respectively. Construction and renewable energy group Acciona owns 25 percent, while the remaining 10 percent is in the hands of Global Vía.

Since the R2 started to operate in 2003, the controlling company has fallen below its financial targets in every year as a result of cost run-overs for land appropriation and the construction of the highway. In the past few years, traffic volumes have also fallen well below projection.

The decision to call in the receivers was taken despite the concession of the controlling company being extended to 2039 and it being granted leave to increase toll rates. The company also reduced its workforce by 20 percent over the past year to 140 employees.

Other radial toll-roads that have suffered the same fate as the R2 are the R3, the R4, the R5, and the Madrid-Toledo highway. The AP36, which connects Ocaña and la Roda, has also gone under, as has the AP7 between Cartagena and Vera.

Without counting the R2, these radials had already accumulated a hole in their books of 3.6 billion euros.