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Successful Road Toll Models in Europe

After months of delays, the German toll collect experiment is now on hold and the contract with its proposed operator in tatters. So what are the alternatives now for Germany?


Successfully implemented in Austria -- the GO box.

The collapse of the proposed truck toll system deal in Germany leaves the autobahn free for heavy vehicles to speed along uncharged -- for now. But what are the alternatives to the Toll Collect idea? Other European countries already have operating models that the Germans could have adopted.


Since January, 2004, the Austrians have been subject to tolls under the microwave system operated by the firm Europpass, a subsidiary of the Italian group Autostrade which is also a toll operator in Italy. The national toll system operates over so-called GO boxes which are installed in the vehicles. These boxes send microwave signals indicating where the truck is on the 2,000 kilometers of Austria's highways. The truck driver can pay the toll for the distance driven at one of the 422 pay points across the country. The average cost is 22 cents per kilometer and can be paid either before or after the journey. The truck is then scanned along the route and its progress and distance recorded. If a toll payment is not recorded or a false one is made, details of the truck and driver are held and payment and additional fines are then demanded.

Europpass claims that annually 100,000 Austrian and 300,000 foreign trucks use the roads, which could lead to an estimated €600 million in toll payments. The firm maintains that the system is efficient, functional and could have been easily introduced in Germany.


The electronic toll system in Switzerland is a combination of satellite technology and impulses sent from an onboard tachometer which records distance from within the truck. The system was introduced by the firm Fela and just as the Europpass system, few problems have been recorded. At the heart of the toll system is the on-board installed capture device Tripon. It counts the kilometers through impulses from the tachometer and stores the data on an electronic chip card. This is then sent by post or Internet to the toll control center. The control of the distance and information is regulated by the satellite detection system GPS.

The system profits from the fact that Switzerland charges a toll on all streets, which negates the need for the system to differentiate between road types as the proposed German and current Austrian system does.


The toll is collected at access points along the road. At the entrance barrier, a ticket must be taken from the machine and then inserted at the exit barrier at the end of the stretch of road. There the machine tells the truck driver how much needs to be paid to pass through the exit barrier and continue on the journey. It's a simple system which doesn't require a lot of new technological developments.


A similar toll system like the one in France is in place in Italy. An all-inclusive fee can be made at the start of the journey or section tolls can be paid at points along the way. The French and Italian systems were not taken into consideration in Germany up to now.


In these countries, the microwave technology is used to record the toll fee. Records of the distance are recorded by points along the road and the truck is charged accordingly.

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