Oleg Raihman on the importance of toll roads, and roads in general, to the overall well-being of a developing country.
Traditionally, the roads in Russia have not only been routes for transportation of people and vehicles, but a certain life philosophy. In the modern world, the meaning of roads has perhaps lost the symbolical implication, but has at the same time gained an important economical and social status: a developed region has an extensive network of modern roads. But the question arises: “What is a modern road?”
Until quite recently, the very existence of a route between point A and point B has been a good sign – an asphalted road without potholes was the ultimate dream. However, in 2014 a smooth surface and clear markings are not a surprise anymore. New demands emerge with the increasing number of vehicles, and the industry faces new standards – the standards of Intelligent Transport Systems. Construction of new roads equipped with contemporary ITS systems is now one of the most relevant tasks in Russia. The example of European countries proves that ITS successfully solves a number of problems connected with the growth of transport flow intensity, positively influencing accident-free driving, increasing the effectiveness of infrastructure usage and diminishing environmental pollution. For the utmost functioning and the possibility of ITS development, it is vital that the roads are as sustainable as possible. One way to achieve that is by introducing a toll system within an ITS framework.
The introduction of toll roads can significantly increase the economic effects, connected with the lowering of haulage costs, transport companies profits increase, an an improvement in the quality and convenience of roads. The State now also has the opportunity to develop road infrastructure and tolling affords it the potential to make ITS autonomous, subsidy-free and also lay the foundation for the system’s evolution.
BREAKING NEW GROUND
One of the first companies in Russian ITS market was Techno-Traffic. Since the very beginning it was clear that the complexity of implementing and managing ITS programmes requires a technically complex approach: scientific, engineering, design and construction. The company’s experts have analysed a significant part of some of the leading international experience of system implementation, accounted for elements with particular advantage for the Russian culture and discarded those steps and technologies that might prove problematic from the point of view of climate and mentality.
In the course of working on several projects it was possible to define, conceptually formalize and introduce Automated Traffic Management systems called “Magistral” and “Gorod”. As a result, in December 2010, the company successfully launched the first Russian toll road, a tolled section of Federal Route M-4 “Don”, on km 414-464 in thr Lipetsk region. The drivers appreciated the advantages of the toll road – convenience, higher speed of transit, less time spent spent in traffic. The original speed limit was 90 km/h, but in June 2011 it was raised up to 110 km/h.
The first experience of operation allowed the company and its experts and technicians to widen its knowledge base and perfect the solutions. The results have exceeded all expectations as the collection of tolls allowed for more active development of the road infrastructure and increased financing of the existing roads. According to the results of State company Russian Automobile Roads activities, “in 2013, over 26m drivers have used the toll sectors of the Federal route M-4 “Don”. Of those 70 per cent (18.2m) were passenger vehicles and 30 per cent (7.8m) trucks. The amount of finance to come due to tolling in 2013 equalled 1.46 billion roubles (€32m)”.
Since 2010, the experts of Techno-Traffic have been putting into practice their experience in toll road construction and Automated Traffic Control systems in the designing of the Western Speed Diameter in Saint-Petersburg, on the Southern and Northern sectors. A peculiar feature of this highway is that this is a strategical investment project of the city of Saint-Petersburg, defining the development of the city as a transport cluster of international standard, thus creating the shortcut between Southern and Northern regions.
Creating and exploiting systems on such a scale demands a complex set of interconnected tasks and the company have been very successful in executing them due to having well-developed generic technical, organizational and legal solutions, adapted to various social-economical, infrastructure, climatic and other conditions.
Upon construction of the first toll stations, the company experimented with implementing typically European systems, but then faced certain difficulties, associated with the specifics of the construction and operation of Russia’s road infrastructure. Because of that, the decision was made to opt for the first Russian tolling system RUTOLL.
RUTOLL allows for the taking into account Russian specifics regarding bank and tax legislation, minimizes the importance of the human factor and automates the cashier-operator’s work. The important point, founded in the ideology of RUTOLL, is the interoperability – the possibility of integration with both the subsystems of the line level (license plate recognition, weigh-in-motion systems) and the systems of the dispatch centers.
In cooperation with the Institute for Information Transmission a unique automatic vehicle video-classification system was designed and implemented. The principle of video-classification is based on the analysis of video-flow with the use of computer-vision technology.
In the field of Automated Traffic Control systems, Techno-Traffic has implemented projects within the most prominent in the country:
- The Third Transport Ring (in cooperation with Siemens);
- Federal route M-4 “Don”;
- Ring motorway, Saint-Petersburg;
- Western Speed Diameter, Saint-Petersburg;
- Alternate Federal route ?1 “Belarus”;
- Olympic facilities, Sochi
General management and coordination of all interconnected systems takes place in Traffic Management Centres, where the information on the traffic situation is collected, stored, processed and the communication with the road users is carried out Along the length of all the toll sectors equipped with the traffic management systems (including toll sectors) vehicle safety is kept under close watch. Advanced methods of design engineering allows for solving both global and local problems in design and survey work in the transport industry, and it also means that losses, both human and transport-related, are diminishing rapidly,
The strategic goal of the company is simple – the introduction of a new level of road infrastructure, thus creating a global standard for traffic safety and driver comfort on the roads of Russia.