Tender for the New GNSS-Based Tolling System in Switzerland

An overview of the procurements to upgrade the Swiss truck tolling system.

09 May 2022

In 2001, Switzerland was the first country to introduce a distance-based charge for all trucks. The Swiss HVC (Heavy Vehicle Charge), known in German as “LSVA” (Leistungsabhängige Schwerverkehrsabgabe), measures each travelled kilometer, regardless of road category. The distanced-based fee is charged to all trucks above 3.5 tons. The Swiss tolling scheme was the first system to deploy GNSS technology for tolling, although the distance has been measured by the tachograph and GPS was only used as a means to verify the distance.

The original “Tripon” OBU

The On Board Unit (OBU) is mandatory for all trucks registered in Switzerland, while foreign trucks can use a manual booking system at the border crossings. Initially, 52,000 Swiss trucks were equipped with an OBU which has the purpose of logging the number of kilometers travelled and writing this information on a chip-card. The OBU required a connection to the tachograph and the built-in GPS receiver was used as a verification of the measured distance. The OBU did not calculate the fees and did not perform any data transmission, since all data was stored on a smart card that was sent in per post each month. The original OBU, called “Tripon,” was supplied by the Swiss company Fela.

The 2nd Generation OBU

The Swiss OBU also includes a built-in microwave Dedicated Short Range Communication (DSRC) interface to detect border crossings, thus activating and de-activating the units when they enter and leave Switzerland, respectively. The second generation OBU was tendered in 2005, the contract was awarded to Siemens the for the supply of the new OBU solution (called “emotach”) that was distributed in 2009. The OBU hardware was manufactured by Continental.

The Swiss Federal Office for Customs and Border Security (FOCBS), in German  Bundesamt für Zoll und Grenzsicherheit (BAZG), is preparing a tender for the third generation of the truck tolling scheme, “HVC III” (LSVA III). It will completely renew the existing infrastructure for levying the distance-related Heavy Vehicle Charge. The Swiss authority has announced that three invitations to tender will be published in 2022:

1. National Toll Service Provider

The National Electronic Toll Service Provider shall collect data from vehicles that are registered in the Swiss tolling system, providing these vehicles with a Third Generation OBU. The new OBU will not require a connection to the tachograph and will also not require a DSRC interface. The recorded data collected by the OBU related to the distance travelled will be sent via the GSM network. It is expected that 50,000 OBUs need to be provided to supply the trucks that are registered to the Swiss system.

Rather than defining and procuring OBUs according to detailed specifications, the tender requirements focus on the quality of data supplied. This system approach is thus open to innovations by toll service providers, and should encourage rapid technological development.

It has been announced that the tender for the National Provider should be published by the end of June 2022. However, it is uncertain whether the tender documentation will be still be issued before the Summer of 2022. The contract should be awarded by the end of 2022, and the new national toll services should be launched by the beginning of 2024.

2. Toll Enforcement Infrastructure (“Control Infrastructure”)

Stationary enforcement roadside infrastructure and the mobile enforcement vehicles will be redesigned and procured. The enforcement infrastructure at the border crossings, to detect trucks entering and exiting the territory of Switzerland, will also upgraded. A DSRC component should not longer be necessary for toll enforcement, as the new enforcement system will rely on Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) and other sensors to determine the vehicle category. The density of the roadside infrastructure will be increased, and more mobile enforcement vehicles are foreseen as well.  The tender for the Control Infrastructure should be published in the third quarter of 2022. The contract award should be completed by the end of 2022, and the enforcement infrastructure should be operational by the beginning of 2024.

3. Mobile Enforcement Operation

The operation of the mobile enforcement vehicles will be tendered separately. It is foreseen that a new organization will be established with a staff to operate the new mobile enforcement vehicles, for a period of 10 years. The tender for Mobile Enforcement Operation should be published in the fourth quarter of 2022, with operations starting together with the launch of the new HVC at the beginning of 2024.

EETS gains momentum in Switzerland

The European Electronic Toll Service (EETS) will play an important role in the design of the next generation truck tolling system.  In January 2021, Telepass became the first EETS provider to offer its services in Switzerland. By August 2021, Toll4Europe was also approved as an Toll Service Provider. By joining the EETS network, Switzerland is able to accelerate the movement of trucks at the border. With an accredited EETS OBU, drivers of foreign trucks will no longer need to get out at the border to pay the Heavy Vehicle Charge, since this can be done electronically with the OBU.

It is expected that EETS will become the main collection service for foreign trucks and will gradually replace the current manual system that has clearance terminals at the border. With the new generation HVC (LSVA), Swiss-registered vehicles will be able to use EETS as well. The collection of the distance-based fees in Switzerland will be carried out directly by the Federal Office for Customs and Border Security (FOCBS) as illustrated below:

The Vision for the Third Generation Heavy Vehicle Charge in Switzerland*

With the Third Generation HVG, most foreign vehicles would use an EETS service from abroad, so that all data from the trips taken within Switzerland will be forwarded to the Federal Office for Customs and Border Security (FOCBS) by the accredited Toll Service Provider. Foreign vehicles will still be able to use the National Manual Toll Service (NMTS), whereby the distance travelled is checked when entering and leaving Switzerland. The option for foreign vehicles to register with the National Electronic Toll Service (NETS) will also be possible.

As is the case today, domestic vehicles in Switzerland will most likely register with the National Electronic Toll Service (NETS), but may also opt for a Toll Service Provider from abroad.

The NETS (illustrated in red in the diagram above) will provide the basic service within the HVC framework, which will be provided to all vehicle owners at no cost. Vehicle owners and their drivers will be able to install the third generation OBU themselves, and will not be required to have the installation made by an authorized mechanic.

*The illustration is an adaptation of the original diagram published by the Swiss Bundesamt für Zoll und Grenzsicherheit (BAZG) at the following site:  https://www.bazg.admin.ch/bazg/de/home/information-firmen/transport–reisedokument–strassenabgaben/schwerverkehrsabgaben–lsva-und-psva-/steckbrief_lsva_lll.html

If you would like to request a detailed description of the project documentation in English, please contact Norbert Schindler: norbert@gnss-consulting.com