New technologies come in time

Electronic toll system for Republican roads to allow raising of budget revenue
By Vasily Kharitonov

The global transport system is changing drastically, becoming more ‘intelligent’, thanks to applied technologies. Think of the convenience of carrying a small device inside your car which warns of traffic jams and suggests an alternate route. It could certainly save on travel time. It could also warn of vehicles in close proximity: very useful in conditions of poor visibility. It could point out the features of a road or, even, inform of flight delays for those hurrying to the airport.

In fact, such a device is currently being piloted by Austrian Company Kapsch, helping Belarus improve its transport system. Its electronic toll collection system uses technology which is innovative by any standard, although it’s been tested with success on roads around the world. The company explains that it has experience of 280 projects in 41 countries, on all five continents, with about 18,000 traffic lanes equipped to date and almost 70 million on-board units in use.

Those marked ‘BY’ are being produced at Kapsch in Vienna and will soon become a familiar sight for some drivers. The BelToll system is to launch from July 1st, 2013, although vehicles with a maximum capacity of under 3.5 tonnes will pass freely if registered within the Customs Union of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan. Larger vehicles and those registered outside of the Customs Union, regardless of weight, will be liable to pay tolls via their onboard unit — pre-loaded with credit to allow travel on certain roads. Fees will be deducted automatically each time a vehicle passes through a metal ‘archway’ on the road.

“The creation of an electronic toll collection system will benefit the Belarusian economy and the population,” stresses the Chief of the Road Network Office of Belavtodor at the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Alexander Golovnev. “The electronic system will significantly increase budget revenue from cargo transit through Belarus, which can then be spent on upgrading roads to rival those in Europe, fulfilling our transit potential even more.” In addition, the investment project will inspire development across other sectors of Belarus. According to the Kapsch Company contract, 30 to 50 percent of the equipment and work for the new system is being provided by Belarusian contractors.

The length of road being tolled is yet to be announced but the Austrian company explains that EU states set rates to reflect the cost of toll infrastructure. “Belarus may set its own rate, reflecting known volumes of traffic from previous years,” notes the Managing Director of Kapsch, Erwin Toplak. Of course, revenue will depend on the toll charged, which must cover the costs of setting up the system. The Austrian partner is investing over 267 million Euros. 

The launch on July 1st 2013 will see BelToll operating on the M1/E30 road (Brest — Minsk — Russian Federation border), covering 824km. The second phase will add another 478km, connecting Minsk with the regional centres of Mogilev (M4) and Gomel (M5). In total, this will cost 158 million Euros over the next two years. Third and fourth stages are planned, with the Ministry of Transport and Communications hoping to see 2,743km of Belarusian roads tolled over the next 20 years.

Kapsch Telematic Services will maintain the system, explains Mr. Toplak. “On entering a new market, we always try to attract as many local companies and professionals as possible. In Belarus, most of the work will be performed on site, since you have plenty of highly trained technicians. We’ll be using 200 specially trained employees for the launch.”

Once the toll system is up and running, the Austrian experts will take a step back; until then, the project is definitely a joint effort to meet the deadline of July 1st, 2013.
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