Launch of new toll system likely to cause traffic disruptions

Photo: Tomáš Adamec / Czech Radio

The launch of the new electronic toll system on Czech highways at the beginning of December can cause major traffic disruptions, the toll operator Czech Toll/Sky Toll has warned. Traffic jams of up to 40 kilometres are expected in some parts of the country, especially at border crossings, when the new toll system goes into operation.

Photo: Tomáš Adamec / Czech Radio
The company issued the warning on Tuesday, confirming that the new satellite system was ready to be launched.

According to the Czech Toll/Sky Toll consortium, the expected traffic complications are likely to be caused by slow registration of carriers. Only 196,000 vehicles have registered in the system so far, which is around 43 percent of the overall figure.

Carriers in the Czech Republic started registering in the new electronic toll system on September 22. As of December 1, hauliers using toll roads in the Czech Republic will be obliged to have their vehicles fitted with a new on-board unit by that date.

According to a traffic model commissioned by Czech Toll/Sky Toll, the worst situation is expected at the Lanžhot crossing on the Czech-Slovak border, near the town of Břeclav, which can see traffic jams of up to 44 kilometres.

Columns of cars of up to 20 kilometres are also expected to form at the Czech-Polish border crossings in Bohumín and Český Těšín.

So far, small carriers with fleets of up to ten vehicles only registered 25,000 cars, which is only around eight percent of their total number.

“The failure of small hauliers to register can cause major traffic complications on the borders, not only for freight transport but also for passenger cars, Matěj Okáli, general manager at Czech Toll/Sky Toll told the Czech News Agency.

“Only those carriers who have had their cars fitted with an on-board unit or will do so within the next two weeks will avoid long queues at the border,” he said, adding that people should really consider postponing their travels abroad at the start of December.

An electronic tolling system for trucks was introduced in the Czech Republic in 2007. It is now in place on roughly 1,400 kilometres of motorways and selected first class roads.

The system was operated by the Austrian company Kapsch. As of December this year, the current microwave technology will be replaced by a satellite system operated by Czech Toll, winner of a CZK 10.75 billion tender announced by Transport Ministry.

The company is controlled by the richest Czech businessman Petr Kellner, who joined forces with SkyToll, which operates the highway toll system in neighbouring Slovakia.