Pay­ment for Speed and Com­fort

Be­larus has launched a national elec­tronic toll col­lec­tion sys­tem (e-toll) on a num­ber of mo­tor­ways

Economy of Belarus - - ROAD INDUSTRY - Tatyana IVANYUK

The global prac­tice of charg­ing driv­ers for us­ing cer­tain mo­tor­ways has a long his­tory and its ne­ces­sity is quite clear – high-qual­ity toll roads are quite lu­cra­tive for any state. The main share of the prof­its goes into road ser­vice de­vel­op­ment, con­struc­tion of new mo­tor­ways and ren­o­va­tion of ex­ist­ing ones. All this does not only con­trib­ute to safer pas­sen­ger and cargo trans­porta­tion, but also boosts rep­u­ta­tion of tran­sit states. Be­larus is one of th­ese coun­tries.

Start­ing Point

Since 1996 Be­larus has been op­er­at­ing one toll road, namely M1/ E30 road from Brest to the Rus­sian bor­der via Minsk. There were only four non-au­to­mated toll col­lec­tion gates along the mo­tor­way. Driv­ers had to stop and hand in cash to pay the toll, which was a bit in­con­ve­nient. That was why it was de­cided to launch BelToll, a new fully au­to­mated toll col­lec­tion sys­tem.

In Fe­bru­ary 2012, the Min­istry of Trans­port and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions of the Repub­lic of Be­larus and Aus­trian-based Kap­sch Traf­ficCom AG signed an in­vest­ment agree­ment to set up an elec­tronic sys­tem to cover a 2,700km mo­tor­way net­work in the fu­ture. Ac­cord­ing to the agree­ment, af­ter the in­vestor com­mis­sions ev­ery new stage of the sys­tem it be­comes pub­lic prop­erty. Last au­tumn, the BelToll trade­mark was de­vel­oped.

The sys­tem was launched on 1 July and toll col­lec­tion started on 1 Au­gust. This is the of­fi­cial date of the be­gin­ning of BelToll’s com­mer­cial op­er­a­tion. Ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Trans­port and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, ini­tially, toll col­lec­tion was sup­posed to start a month ear­lier. The Min­istry and the in­vestor de­cided to post­pone the com­mer­cial op­er­a­tion due to the low num­ber of reg­is­tered users as of 1 July and a some­what slow regis­tra­tion process. Thus, ve­hi­cle own­ers were given one more month to com­plete the regis­tra­tion. None­the­less, it was only two weeks be­fore the of­fi­cial launch on 1 Au­gust and one week af­ter that BelToll ser­vice cen­ters got swamped with an ex­tremely high in­flow of regis­tra­tion ap­pli­ca­tions.

The first stage of the Be­laru­sian e-toll sys­tem is com­plete. It has cost € 120 mil­lion. To­day it cov­ers 815km of mo­tor­ways in­clud­ing the en­tire length of M1/E30 mo­tor­way Brest (Ko­zlovichi)–Minsk–the Rus­sian bor­der (Redki) and some sec­tions of the mo­tor­ways M2 Minsk–National Air­port Minsk, M3 Minsk–Vitebsk, M4 Minsk–Mogilev, M5/E271 Min­skGomel, and M6/E28 Minsk–Grodno– the Pol­ish bor­der (Bruzgi).

The sec­ond stage is due to be com­pleted by 1 Jan­uary 2014, and two more stages may fol­low. How­ever, they may re­quire sign­ing ad­di­tional long-term agree­ments. The to­tal cost of the in­vest­ment agree­ment with the Aus­trian part­ner is € 267 mil­lion.

Prin­ci­ples of Op­er­a­tion

The main ad­van­tage of the e-toll sys­tem is that it is based on short-range wire­less com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies al­low­ing driv­ers to go through a toll col­lec­tion gate with­out hav­ing to stop in or­der to pay. Mo­torists can go at any speed within the max­i­mum speed limit and with­out chang­ing the lane. The pay­ment is done au­to­mat­i­cally when they pass un­der cor­re­spond­ing por­tals equipped with laser sen­sors, video and photo cam­eras that record the ve­hi­cle data. Ve­hi­cles must be equipped with on­board de­vices, a small elec­tronic pay­ment de­vice in­stalled on the wind­shield. There are two types of on­board de­vices that dif­fer in sizes (for cars and trucks).

They are dis­trib­uted for free. How­ever, a user must pay a de­posit

be­fore in­stalling one. On­board de­vices have pre-recorded in­for­ma­tion about the ve­hi­cle and toll amounts must be pre­paid. When the pre­paid amount runs out it has to be topped up. To do so, a driver can use Visa, MasterCard, BelCard, cash or a fuel card.

There are 48 BelToll ser­vice points in Be­larus. As of 1 Au­gust, they dis­trib­uted about 49,000 on­board units. In the sub­se­quent two weeks the num­ber dou­bled. It is note­wor­thy, that the Min­istry of Trans­port and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions of Be­larus set up a spe­cial com­mis­sion to mon­i­tor the work of e-toll op­er­at­ing com­pa­nies and to make sure that they ad­dress cus­tomer con­cerns. Mem­bers of the com­mis­sion mon­i­tor and an­a­lyze in­com­ing in­for­ma­tion and re­spond to emerg­ing prob­lems.

Ev­ery­thing Un­der Con­trol

It goes with­out say­ing that such a so­phis­ti­cated sys­tem as BelToll can­not op­er­ate with­out a con­trol

body in­den­ti­fy­ing non­pay­ers. Toll col­lec­tion is car­ried out 24/7 by the Traf­fic Patrol Depart­ment of the Min­istry of Trans­port and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions of Be­larus. The in­vestor has sup­plied the Depart­ment with 16 spe­cially equipped ve­hi­cles to patrol mo­tor­way sec­tions of the BelToll net­work. They also mon­i­tor 15 mo­tor­way check­points on the coun­try’s bor­der.

There are two types of vi­o­la­tions in terms of toll col­lec­tion in Be­larus, namely non­pay­ment and un­der­pay­ment. The lat­ter hap­pens when ve­hi­cle own­ers, for in­stance, are reg­is­tered in the sys­tem but de­clare fewer axles than their ve­hi­cles ac­tu­ally have. This is im­por­tant as the toll amount de­pends on the num­ber of axles and the to­tal ad­mis­si­ble weight of the ve­hi­cle and ranges be­tween € 0.04 and € 0.12 per 1km. As for non­pay­ment, it hap­pens when there is no on­board de­vice in­stalled, when it is mal­func­tion­ing or ex­pired. The penalty varies from € 50 to € 100 for cars and from € 130 to € 260 for trucks de­pend­ing on the type of vi­o­la­tion.

By the way, ev­ery car has its own cus­tom­ized on­board de­vice which can­not be trans­ferred to an­other ve­hi­cle even if it be­longs to the same com­pany. Such trans­fer is equiv­a­lent to toll un­der­pay­ment.

If for­eign road users fail to pay the penalty for some rea­son on the road or at the bor­der, they will be charged within a year when reen­ter­ing the coun­try. As for Be­laru­sian vi­o­la­tors, the in­for­ma­tion about them goes to the cen­tral data­base and they will have to pay within 30 days upon re­ceiv­ing the no­tice. If they fail to pay be­fore the dead­line, an ad­min­is­tra­tion pro­ce­dure will be launched which may re­sult in a more size­able penalty.

Com­pli­cated Yet Promis­ing

It took a year and a half to pre­pare and launch the new e-toll sys­tem, in­clud­ing the de­vel­op­ment of the le­gal frame­work, de­sign and in­stal­la­tion of equip­ment. This was a quite com­pli­cated pro­ject due to its nov­elty, time con­straints and a ne­ces­sity to elab­o­rate a great num­ber of ac­com­pa­ny­ing le­gal doc­u­ments. It is clearly one of the most im­por­tant projects for the Min­istry of Trans­port and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

One of the ob­jec­tives of the new sys­tem is to raise prof­itabil­ity of the trans­porta­tion sec­tor and sub­se­quently in­crease its fund­ing. The main goal of the Be­laru­sian Min­istry of Trans­port and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions is to im­prove not only toll roads but also the national mo­tor­way net­work in gen­eral.

How­ever, we have to keep in mind that the in­vest­ment agree­ment with Kap­sch Traf­ficCom AG is a com­mer­cial pro­ject. The sys­tem was built with­out any bud­get re­sources and ac­cord­ing to the agree­ment the Be­laru­sian side has to re­im­burse the cost of the BelToll in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment to the in­vestor within three years. This is where the in­come from toll roads will be spent on.

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