Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Haulage Operators May be Caught Out by Poor Management of Road Toll Systems

Goods Vehicles and Private Cars Affected as Motorway Charging Becomes the Fashion
Shipping News Feature

HUNGARY – With road tolls currently the target money spinner for countries around the world looking for a quick and sure source of revenue, the rush to ensure maximum income from as many road goers as possible has, at times, looked almost obscene. The UK has seen yet another shift in collections at one of the country’s major choke points, the Dartford Crossing on the M25 motorway, with the introduction of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) replacing both cash and electronic tag payments as the barriers have been removed, a system that doubtless will produce a handsome profit for the French owned operators from the fines produced from those ignorant of the new rules, not least from haulage operators unused to that part of the road network.

Hungary operates a E-Vignette system and recently the Hungarian government has been under fire as it extends its electronic toll collection (ETC) system on a motorway similar to the M25, the M0 ring road around Budapest as well as other arterial motorway routes into the capital. Although the ‘county passes’ cost under £12.50 per annum local press reports that these will not be ready as the new regulations get under way on 1 January 2015 and potential fines are much stiffer.

With no information on the operator’s website, and petrol stations due to sell the windscreen stickers saying they have no systems in place to implement the new policy, confusion apparently reigns, not helped by the mountain of terms and conditions which the operator, National Toll Payment Services Plc, does list, a maze of instructions and warnings sufficient to confuse the most adroit of drivers. The page listed as ‘The most common errors related to the e-toll’ is bad enough but try reading the section for road haulage goods vehicles in the ominously named ‘Broshure’.

Having got your money in the form of a penalty things could get worse when you discover that wrongly charged fines are recoverable due to an amendment to the Act covering the road tolls and presumably wrongly interpreted by the operators. If you feel your local authority underperforms take a look at the ‘Penalty Amnesty of E-toll’ page to see how many hoops Hungarian drivers who have been incorrectly fined have to jump through to get their money back.