Viapass: ‘Ukraine war also impacts Belgian transport’

The number of toll kilometers driven in Belgium fell last year due to the war in Ukraine, so reports Viapass. This public body coordinates and organizes road pricing in Belgium. Still, revenues from tolls rose to 829,3 million euros in 2022, or a slight increase of 1,86%, but this is mainly due to the indexation of tariffs.

Last year, 5 437 614 448 toll kilometers were driven in Belgium, or 1,5% less compared to 2021. Although the number of toll kilometers driven was relatively stable, the Ukraine war has also impacted road freight transport.

Drop with 2,6% since the start of the war

From July 2022, a few months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the number of toll kilometers driven went down slightly. If the kilometers driven for the year’s second half are compared between 2021 and 2022, the difference is even 2,6%.

This is remarkable because it has been assumed that the volume of goods transported would always increase, says Johan Schoups, Viapass’ administrator general. That has always been the case since road pricing was enacted in April 2016. Revenues from the kilometer charge have increased year-on-year.

The negative trend also looks to continue in 2023, with January figures slightly lower than in January last year.

Fewer Russian trucks

In particular, the number of foreign trucks on Belgian roads fell slightly last year, one of the effects of the boycott measures. For example, the number of Russian trucks fell from 24 106 in 2021 to 6 122 in 2022 or a drop of more than 25%. On the other hand, cargo traffic by Ukrainian trucks fell only slightly, from 23 564 trucks in 2021 to 22 300 last year.

Overall, 40,5 million trucks were driving in Belgium in 2022, down from 40,8 million in 2021. However, the ratio of Belgians versus non-Belgian trucks did remain the same: 52,4% Belgians and 47,6% foreign trucks. Belgian trucks continued to drive more domestically, which explains why the ratio remained the same.

So about half of the kilometer charge is paid by foreign trucks. As in previous years, in 2022, the bulk of tolls came from Flanders: 543,8 million euros compared to 275,4 million euros in Wallonia and 10,1 million euros in Brussels. The amount from Flanders is higher due to, among other things, the more extensive network of highways and traffic in the function of the ports.

Greening fleet does not continue

On the other hand, the greening of trucks is currently at its ceiling when looking purely at vehicle categories. The toll on Euro 6 and Euro 5 trucks combined, for example, was 96,6% of the total last year (95,8% in 2021). In 2016, only 30% of trucks on the road were of the cleanest category (Euro 6).

Transport companies also continue to opt for the heaviest truck weight classes. The category above 32 tons rose by 0,1% to 91,5%. The category between 12 and 32 tons remained unchanged at 6,7% of the total.

Also, only a limited number of electric trucks are still driving in Belgium. Therefore, it is currently being considered whether an additional category for tolling could be helpful to encourage alternative-energy truck traffic.


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