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Effects of road charges for heavy traffic - potential to influence modal split

Sweden Flag
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
STRIA Roadmaps
Transport mode
Road icon
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues
Transport sectors
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

Distance based road user charging for heavy goods vehicles is on the political agenda in Sweden and a number of research projects are focusing on different aspects.

Project is studying regional impacts from road user charging systems for heavy good vehicles and both projects have an interest in understanding what has happened in other European countries.


The purpose of this study is to investigate and analyse which impacts the implemented heavy vehicle road user charging systems have had on route choice, modal choice, choice of vehicles and logistics.

Another aim is to investigate how regional impacts were considered when the road user charging systems were designed and if so - How did it influence the system design.


The project is divided into two parts. The initial step consists of a literature review which will concentrate on an evaluation of effects resulting from introducing toll systems for heavy traffic in the Alpine region (Switzerland 2001, Austria 2004 and Germany 2005).

The evaluation of the results from the introduction of tolls for heavy vehicles in Austria, Switzerland and Germany is expected to produce valuable information and experience of how the different market actors react on different system solutions, toll levels and regulatory systems. The intention is, among others, to discuss the unfavourable effects in Germany of heavy traffic choosing minor state roads through urban areas in Germany to avoid tolls. Another undesired way of avoiding tolls that is frequently used is to use parallel roads in bordering countries, e.g. the Czech Republic. 

In the following step of the project, alternative toll structures for the Swedish road networks will be developed and analysed. The method of measuring changes in road transport flows is based on simulations of freight flows by means of a freight model implemented in the EFM STAN. The model is developed from the SAMGODS model. Thus, one result will be a method that can measure the consequences from the introduction of road charges for road transports on the Swedish road network 


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
Banverket (Swedish National Rail Administration)
Type of funding
Public (national/regional/local)


The three existing distance based road user charging systems in Europe have different objectives:

• The Austrian system is mainly focused on road infrastructure financing,

• The Swiss system has a clear focus on applying the “user pays” principle, protecting the environment and increasing the rail share,

• The German system has a strong focus on the infrastructure financing but there is also a focus on applying the “user pays” principle, more efficient use of transport capacities and emission-related tolls as well as providing fairer conditions for rail transport.

Toll avoidance de-routing is a negative impact of the implementation of road tolls in Germany and Austria but not in Switzerland, since all roads in Switzerland are included in the scheme. In Germany there are tendencies to de-routing to secondary roads (national roads) which are running parallel to motorways and have a motorway-like standard.

The same tendencies can be found in Austria but to a somewhat lesser extent. The experiences so far of possible modal-split effects are difficult to separate from other influencing factors.

In Switzerland there are almost no measurable modal-split effects – despite this was one of the main aims with the system – since the effect of the introduced road toll was almost totally compensated by efficiency gains in the road sector through higher permitted lorry weights.

In Germany there are some indications of a modal shift among larger shippers towards an increase use of rail transports (+3.1%), but the largest effects are an increased consolidation of road transports.

The indications of changes in modal-split are difficult to specifically relate the impact of the road tolls as there are a number of other influencing factors e.g. increased fuel prices, changed vehicle weights, open market towards Eastern Europe.

The impacts of the implemented road user charging systems on logistics are mainly an increased efficiency in the road freight sector in terms of e.g. consolidation of road transports, reduced number of empty runs and concentration in the haulier business. These effects can be found in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

There is an interest in vehicles with reduced emissions (EURO 4 and 5 class vehicles) in Germany and Switzerland and there is a tendency in all countries towards adjustments of the fleet composition as a response to the charging criteria.

The analysis shows:<

Innovation aspects

Comparison of defferent toll systems in Europe.

Policy implications

The materials of this projects can be a decision supporting tool in the field of transport policy.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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