Fresh from the battering it took on its 2003 draft Directive on tolling technologies, the European Commission is back in the ring, this time attempting to modify the work of the CEN committee, TC 278 seen as largely responsible for the failure to achieve a pan-European tolling standard.
The draft Directive on tolling technologies, published in the Spring of last year and intended to draw a line under the failure of TC 278 to reach agreement on a standard for DSRC at 5.8 GHz, was widely criticised by the EU Parliament as well as the tolling industry. As a result of that criticism, the Commission was forced to look again at the range of options it faced and is now keen to see the introduction of a new standardisation mandate for intelligent transport systems (M338).
If accepted, the mandate will see a greater level of co-operation between a number of existing committees/pressure groups including ISO, ETSI, ITS Ertico and CEN-ELEC with a view to achieving greater progress on the standardisation of tolling technologies than has hitherto been the case.
Introduction of the mandate will be in two phases. In the first phase will come an analysis of the emerging legal framework for standardisation and the production of a detailed work programme. The second phase will be the implementation of the work programme. Success hinges on the production of a standard covering interoperable in-vehicle tolling reader units. The text of M338 calls on CEN "to encourage, as a matter of priority, further standardisation covering aspects of DSRC …with the objective of enabling the provision of on-board units that are interoperable with all current electronic fee collection systems within Europe."
On another front, a Comité Télépéage elctronic toll collection committee is attempting to promote interoperability across Europe with the support of the EC. The Commission sees the work of the Comité as a means of implementing its own, amended Directive on the subject. The latest initiative is expected to involve all 25 EU member states as well as ASECAP (Association Europeenne des Concessionaires d'Autoroutes et d'Ouvrages a Peage) as an observer body.
In a further twist to the tortured politics of the subject, Italy, earlier this year, introduced a proposal to develop an entirely new standard for an on-board tolling unit capable of dealing with a number of DSRC standards. Italy has been at the forefront in opposing the four pre-standards for DSRC at 5.8 GHz due to her own well established Telepass elctronic tolling infrastructure which does not comply with the pre-standards.
Predictably, the proposal has run into determined opposition from the national standards bodies of several member states, including Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Seden and the UK. The proposal was supported by the Czech Republic