Soon, zip through toll plazas at even 150 km speed

NO STOPPING: NHAI testing MLFF technology that would allow vehicles with RFID tag cross toll booths at high speed

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Soon, zip through toll plazas at even 150 km speed


A few years down the line, motorists may be able to speed through toll plazas on national highways without stopping to pay the toll.

The government is planning to introduce 'Multi-Lane Free Flow (MLFF) tolling, wherein the toll amount can be deducted from the radio frequency identification (RFID) tags even if the vehicle is zipping past at a high speed of up to 150 km per hour.

At present, the MLFF tolling technology is being tested under a pilot project by National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).


  • Under MLFF, a gantry is erected on which RFID readers/receivers, cameras are installed to capture every vehicle's data, similar to ETC lanes
  • The only difference is that these equipment are designed to capture the data for vehicles passing at a high speed

Under MLFF tolling, a gantry is erected on which RFID readers/receivers, cameras and other equipment are installed to capture every vehicle's data passing underneath, similar to ETC lanes at various toll plazas. The only difference is that these equipment are designed to capture the data for vehicles passing at a high speed. This technology is already used in Malaysia and Indonesia among other countries.

A bid has been floated by Indian Highways Management Co Ltd (IHMCL) to get the technology to India. NHAI, jointly with its concessionaires and financial institutions, had incorporated IHMCL to carry out electronic tolling and other ancillary projects on national highways. NHAI has a 41.38% stake, concessionaires hold 33.81% and financial institutions the balance 24.81% in IHMCL.

As this is a pilot project, a stretch between Panipat and Ambala on the Delhi-Chandigarh National Highway has been identified. The entire project stretch on this six-lane highway will have three sites where an MLFF barrier-less gantry will be placed at each point.

At each of the sites, the gantry will be installed a kilometre before the toll plaza.

Being planned on a design, build and operate basis, the system will be able to capture vehicle details through ETC FASTags fixed on windshield and registration number even if one is zipping past at 150 km per hour.

The existing toll collection design causes traffic disruption leading to significant socioeconomic loss due to factors such as fuel cost of vehicles while waiting at toll plazas, passenger time value lost, opportunity cost, etc.

Moreover, under the existing design vehicles end up paying the toll fare only if they cross a physical toll plaza. Thus, several vehicles using a significant section of a national highway do not pay any fare if they exit the highway just prior to encountering a plaza. On the other hand, some vehicles may end up paying the toll fare for the entire project stretch even for using a small section of the highway, if the plaza falls on that small section used.

"In order to address these issues, we are exploring this technology. Under this barrier-less gantry system, vehicles can cruise through tolling points without the need to slow down," said an official.

A senior NHAI official told DNA Money that if they get positive results from this pilot project they will surely replicate the technology on other highways across the country. Hence, if successful, this technology may be utilised for 'pay-as-you-use' tolling that is being contemplated by the government for a year now.

At the moment, "this is just a technology verification project," the official said.

As this technology is not available in India, this is likely to be brought in by an international player either independently or through a joint venture with an Indian firm.

"For now, we will use the technology and data captured to compare with the actual toll paid at the physical toll plaza with the one calculated by MLFF," the senior official said.

Possibly at a later stage, toll collection through this mechanism will become a norm.

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