Pan-European fuel card network AS24 is to help operators stay compliant with Belgium’s Viapass road toll system by adding new capabilities to its on-board unit (OBU).
The OBU, which can also be used on similar road tolls in countries such as Spain, France, and soon Germany, will track the distance a truck has travelled on eligible Belgian toll roads using GPS.
AS24 developed the unit for the Ecotax in France a few years ago, but the French government abandoned the tax before it came into force.
The AS24 OBU’s new feature is expected to go live by December.
What is Viapass?
Since 1 April 2016, HGVs exceeding 3.5tonnes GVW have had to pay a toll based on how far they travel on Belgium’s roads.
The tariff is based on the gross combination weight of the truck; its emissions; and the type of toll road. Some roads are free to use.
Operators must have an OBU that is constantly switched on when drivers use Belgian roads. The OBU registers the distance the truck travels on toll road, in kilometres, and sends the total to the Viapass billing centre.
Operators of clean trucks, such as Euro-6, will pay less, but more polluting trucks will pay more.
Certain vehicles, such as army vehicles, fire engines and ambulances are exempt from the toll.
Featherstone, West Yorkshire-based operator Brian Yeardley Continental usually has between five and 10 trucks delivering or travelling through Belgium every day.
MD Kevin Hopper said the OBUs were easy to apply for and are simple to use by drivers.
He explained: “As you enter Belgium the box bleeps once, a green tick is illuminated on the box and it starts to calculate the kilometre toll charge while you are transiting or making collections or deliveries in Belgium. We then pay the toll on a direct debit through our fuel supplier AS24.”
Hopper said he supports road user charging as it helps maintain fair competition between domestic and foreign operators and pay for the maintenance of the road network.
He said a similar road charging system to the Viapass scheme could be considered in the UK, rather than the current HGV Road User Levy which charges HGVs a fixed rate to use UK roads.
“I think the UK government is very slow to follow other European countries to exploit new revenue streams,” he said. “In the UK this rate is £10 per day for a 40-tonne truck, which was set in 2014 and it hasn’t been reviewed since.
“A UK haulier pays to transit France from Calais to the Spanish border at La Jonquière (a two day transit) and pays approximately €200 (£176). The same journey from Dover to Glasgow would cost [a non-UK-based haulier] £20,” he said.
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