It seemed like the worst was over as protests over the new truck toll system calmed over the weekend. So, how much does it cost to drive across Belgium?
BELGIUM TRUCK TOLL ON TRACK ALREADY?
Calm weekend after chaotic first Friday.
Trucks queued for so long on the E34 border between Eindhoven and Antwerp on Friday that authorities eventually towed them away.
It was typical of the chaos around Belgium on the first day of the new Via Pass electronic truck toll.
Operator Satellic was overwhelmed with complaints. Phone lines jammed and the service points ran out of the OBU On-Board Units.
The minister of transport suspended the €1000 fine for ‘those with good intentions’.
Only the German border was clear, apparently because 41,000 truckers had ordered their OBUs early*.
Meanwhile, Belgian hauliers blocked the E411 motorway between Brussels and Luxembourg for nearly twenty four hours plus a long list of national roads.
By Saturday morning however, the situation was much calmer – apart from a block on the E19 border between Valenciennes and Mons, and on the N97 at Dinant (there was also a suspiciously long queue on the A44 at Aachen in Germany).
British trucker @Geordie_driver crossed into southern Belgium from Longwy in France on Saturday morning and registered for an OBU within half an hour.
Attention now turns to how expensive the variable rate tolls are turning out to be in practice. The per kilometre charge ranges from 7c to nearly 30c depending on emissions, weight and region.
@Gromit1701 used his pre-ordered OBU on the way back from Scandinavia on Friday said it worked out roughly at €40 to transit Belgium.
This is borne out by @Geordie_driver who paid €43.69 for 304km cross-country, from Longwy to Zeebrugge – i.e just under 15c per kilometer on average.
Freightex said the extra cost would be significant for hauliers, especially as many had held off from charging it on to customers, in case – as seemed likely at one point – the system would be suspended.
By late Saturday afternoon one observer was moved to say, ‘Hooray! Belgium has succeeded where Denmark and France failed miserably,’ – in reference to France’s failed Ecotaxe truck toll, and Denmark’s similar scheme cancelled in 2013.
Whether that turns out to be premature we’ll see next week (it was premature).
* it turns out, according to the TLV union, that the 41,000 OBUs delivered to Germany were sent out by mistake. They were destined for Belgian hauliers.