Six months after its launch, Toll Collect is working flawlessly. The sophisticated road-charging system for heavy commercial vehicles has brought EUR 1.4 billion in revenues since 1 January 2005, beating the government’s expectations.
From January to June 2005, some 11 billion toll-road kilometres were recorded and invoiced to Toll Collect users. Although there are 3,700 roadside terminals for users who want to pay manually, the automatic log-on system, which is accessible via the On-Board Units (OBUs) installed in trucks, accounted for 85% of the road tolls collected. According to German Secretary of State for Transport Ralph Nagel, Toll Collect is now expected to bring over EUR 3bn to the Federal government by the end of 2005.
Meanwhile, the Toll Collect consortium, which comprises large German corporations such as DaimlerChrysler, Deutsche Telekom or Siemens and French motorways operator Cofiroute, has recently announced that OBU 2.0 – an upgraded software package for the 448,500 OBUs currently installed – will be available on 18 July 2005. According to the consortium, the new software release – which will be supplied to toll system users by around 1,900 service partners throughout Europe – will make the truck toll system more flexible.
The new software is being provided as part of an agreement signed with the federal government in February 2004 to introduce the German truck toll system in two phases. In the first phase launched on 1 January 2005, the toll system started with On-Board Units featuring all of the basic functions required to accurately calculate and collect the road toll. In the upcoming second phase, the units will be equipped with the new OBU 2.0 software that will be activated in 2006. This will give the OBUs new technical functions: new motorway junctions, additional toll road segments and modified charging data will be automatically downloaded to the OBU via mobile phone signals, while it will also be possible to revise and adapt toll charging rates. This will eliminate the need to bring the vehicle in for regular OBU updates, the consortium said.
Toll Collect is a ‘free-flow system’, that calculates the toll without stopping or reducing the speed of vehicles. Its automatic toll accounting system uses a combination of mobile telecommunications and satellite positioning (GPS) technologies. After many delays due to technical problems, the system was launched throughout the country’s highways on 1 January 2005 and has since then been working without any glitches.
Germany, which has Europe’s busiest highways, now charges an average of 12.5 eurocents per kilometre. About one third of the trucks that use its highway network are foreign, which added increased complexity to the transition to the new system. Meanwhile, it emerged that the German government will consider this autumn whether to extend the toll system to other roads. According to the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Housing, since the launch of the system between 2 and 5% of trucks have been using alternative roads in order to escape the tolls.
Source: European Communities 2005