India to launch GLONASS-based transport control system

India to launch GLONASS-based transport control system Photo: MKonair

India is going to launch a toll collection system based on Russia's GLONASS on New Delhi-Mumbai highway. The project will be implemented by the operator of Platon Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) system, which is used to collect tolls from the owners of heavy lorries in Russia.

Russian RT-Invest Transport Systems (RTITS), the operator of GLONASS-based Platon ETC system, received a contract for the implementation of a similar project in India, says The Economic Times. The contract was also claimed by other foreign toll system operators, such as Slovakian SkyToll, Hungary's National Toll Payment Services and the Indian subsidiary of the Austrian Efkon.

RTITS, which is co-owned by Russian billionaire Igor Rotenberg, won the tender and signed the contract with India at the end of December 2018. The company has already begun the implementation of a fare payment system on the New Delhi-Mumbai highway with a length of almost 1,500 kilometres. To implement the system, it is supposed to equip vehicles with onboard devices based on GLONASS and the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System. The devices have been developed specifically for this project. The Indian transport sector expects to earn up to $2-3 billion per year thanks to the toll collection system.

Russian lorry drivers have repeatedly protested against Platon system saying it could make their business unprofitable. Photo: Farhad Sadykov

According to Maksim Khudalov, director of Corporate Ratings at ACRA rating agency, the adaptation of Platon to the Indian infrastructure can cost about 10–15% of the project's overall development cost, or about 2,9–4,4 billion rubles. Besides the installation of the system, RTITS will also provide its maintenance.

GLONASS, or Global Navigation Satellite System, is a Russian space-based satellite navigation system, which provides an alternative to the United States' GPS. It is the second-largest navigational system in operation with global coverage and of comparable precision. The system was developed and launched by the Soviet Union and restored to full capacity by Russia in the 2000s. In Russia, GLONASS-based Platon ETC system is used for collecting tolls from the owners of heavy goods vehicles that exceed 12 tonnes of gross vehicle weight. Russian lorry drivers have repeatedly protested against the system saying it could make their business unprofitable.

By Anna Litvina