Testing of the technology for the British distance-based charging scheme is not expected to begin before 2006 and will continue on into 2007 following the decision by the government to postpone the implementation of the national scheme by two years.
"The key aim is to get (the technology) right," said John Healey, economic Secretary to the Treasury in the most recent progress report issued through HM Treasury and HM Customs and Excise.
Despite the delay, the government is to begin the procurement process later this year with an 'information day' for potential system suppliers. This will be followed by a shortlist of suppliers before Christmas and the signing of final contracts a year later, in December 2005.
In a nod towards the German experience, the UK authorities have acknowledged the need for extensive testing of the proposed technology before it is deployed. "We are learning lessons from experiences in other countries including the postponement of the German charge …" said Mr Healey. "e have concluded that our project timetable must include a comprehensive testing phase with thorough monitoring of ho the systems are operating and whether objectives are being met."