Cross-border Assessment 2016
Dossier 10: Belgian toll system for lorries
The entire dossier is available here in Dutch and English.
The Belgian toll system for lorries
The Flemish Region, the Walloon Region, and the Brussels-Capital Region have committed themselves to introducing a distance-based toll system for heavy goods vehicles in Belgium in April 2016. This means that it is no longer possible to use the Eurovignette on Belgian roads.
According to a study conducted by the VID (Traffic Information Service / Verkeers Informatie Dienst), the introduction of the new Belgian toll for lorries will lead to more freight traffic on Dutch roads: ‘It appears that transport companies are trying to reduce the number of kilometres in Belgium, in order to save on toll. This means that it has become noticeably busier on the Dutch East-West routes.’ (VID 2016)
A different source states that the introduction of the new, costlier, toll system for lorries in Belgium leads to an increase in the prices of the affected industries (in their example: the food industry). (Transport & Mobility Leuven 2015)
Until now, there has been no study to examine the specific impact of this new toll system on the logistics and forwarding companies in the area of the German-Dutch region close to the Belgian border. This has therefore been the focus of this research project as part of the ITEM cross-border impact assessment 2016.
The aim of the research project was to find out more about the practical impact of the introduction of the Belgian toll system on 1 April 2016 on logistics and forwarding companies in the German/Dutch border area of Northern Limburg. In order to achieve this, the existing or alternative routes of the logistic companies needed to be made clear. The level of new costs related to the Belgian toll system and whether or not these costs would be passed on to their clients were also studied. The project also explored what changed for companies that still had to buy the Eurovignette for journeys through the remaining Member States. Furthermore, the logistics and forwarding companies’ opinions on the short-term and long-term effects of the Belgian toll system were included in this study.
The researchers investigated whether the companies had any problems with the installation of the OBU Boxes and/or if they required more time to meet the requirements of the Belgian toll documents etc. Lastly, the companies were asked if they would like to change anything about the Belgian toll system and if so, what they would want to change.
The research was conducted as follows. Firstly, secondary research was used to gain information on toll systems in general. This was done to create an overview of how companies are affected by tolls when taking alternative routes through different countries other than Belgium. Secondly, the new Belgian toll system was examined. Lastly, interviews were held with logistics and forwarding companies from the designated area. This was done to gain first-hand information and opinions from professionals who are directly affected by the new toll system.
The outcome of this investigation provides information on the change of routes and costs as well as opinions of logistics and forwarding companies with lorries driving through Belgium.
Existing toll systems
Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Belgium charge tolls for lorries on specific roads. Germany has its own, distance-based toll system for domestic and foreign HGVs. The Netherlands and Luxembourg are Eurovignette countries, as was Belgium before the introduction of its own toll system on 1 April, 2016. Belgium has abandoned this time-based Eurovignette to move on to a distance-based toll system like Germany’s.
Results from the interviews show that the introduction of the new Belgian toll system has barely had any impact on the routes taken by lorries from Dutch and German companies located in the border region with Belgium. Other than trying to avoid Brussels due to the high toll in this area, lorries from the interviewed companies still take the same routes through Belgium. In contrast, articles report that there have been changes in routes since more freight traffic has been noticed on roads in the Dutch border region close to Belgium. Nevertheless, this could not be confirmed by the companies that were interviewed for this project. Moreover, the costs that the companies are facing due to the new toll system have increased immensely. A one-way route through Belgium costs on average 290% more than it used to cost under the previous toll system (toll only). In addition, when companies buy the Eurovignette for the remaining Member States, they have to pay the same price as before when Belgium was still included. Before, the Eurovignette costing €8 per day was sufficient for a journey through Netherlands and Belgium. Now, however, the €8 for the Eurovignette has to be paid in addition to the Belgian toll.
Lastly, the interviewees do not like the new Belgian toll system very much; they see it only as a change that they have to accept. Seeing as costs have only increased for companies, the interviewed companies hope to see road improvements and better maintenance on Belgian roads. If they could, they would opt for a toll system that included the whole of Europe.
 Heavy Goods Vehicle