The A13 Paris-Normandy, the next toll-free motorway (but still not free…)

After the A79 in the Allier, the A13 in Normandy is the next motorway to pass in “free flow”, that is to say without toll barriers. The first sites to benefit from this technology are expected by 2024.

The A79, in the Allier, becomes the first toll motorway without toll barriers in France, since this Friday, November 4, 2022. Next on the list, the A13 motorway in Normandy. Ses 210 kilometers will pass in “free flow”: theMotorists will be able to travel at the authorized speed, without slowing down or stopping, passing through gates equipped with cameras and sensors that will identify their vehicle. The A13-A14 will be the first complete axis in France to benefit from this technology, underlines the Company of the motorways of the North and the East of France (Sanef) in its press release.

This system is quite widespread in many countries, between Johannesburg and Pretoria in South Africa, around Toronto in Canada, on the urban highways of Santiago-de-Chile, in many American states, on the Autostrada pedemontana lombarda near Milan in Italy, on many roads in Norway, on half of the Portuguese motorways or even to enter Gothenburg or Stockholm in Sweden.

In France, Sanef transformed the Boulay-Moselle interchange on the A4 motorway into a laboratory, removing the physical barriers there in March 2019. Despite a few incidents at the start, “the system has demonstrated its reliability and customers have become familiar with this new payment system”, assures its managing director Arnaud Quemard. The very first experiment took place in Indre-et-Loire on the A10 motorway in Tours-Nord in February 2019 by the motorway concessionaire Vinci.

No toll barriers does not mean driving without paying. Several ways of adjusting their passages will be offered to users who pass through the motorway gantry:

  • With an electronic toll badge.
  • By associating his license plate with his bank card for 48 hours or for the year.
  • By paying in the days following his journey via the website or by contacting an advisor by telephone by filling in his plate. It is also possible to set up your journey in one go on the motorway network or outside it.

Sanef has therefore undertaken to convert the Normandy motorway, which sees 32,000 cars a day, to free flow. “On the A13 and the A14 between Paris and Caen, there are five barriers, with fairly strong commuting traffic and significant weekend peaks. At each toll barrier, there is a stop with potentially the traffic jam”noted Arnaud Quemard, director of the Sanef group. According to the group, the first free flow sites will be open by the last half of 2024. If the start date of the work is not specified, an end is planned for 2027.

“The objective is to straighten the highway”, by returning to nature 28 hectares – the equivalent of 40 football pitches – currently occupied by toll stations, specifies the director of Sanef. It also promises time savings, fuel savings and reductions in CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.

The investment is valued at approximately 120 million euros, partly covered by an annual increase in tolls. Contrary to what one might think, switching to free flow does not save money. “Today, on the toll in Normandy, we have around 150 employees. To operate the same free-flow motorway, we will need around 300”who will mainly deal with customer relations, says Arnaud Quemard.

We have a huge stake in retraining our staff, and we have guaranteed to all our toll employees that we will find suitable employment for them.

Arnaud Quemard, director of the Sanef group


Among the next motorways to switch to free flow, the Autoroute blanche (A40) in Haute-Savoie, which the company Autoroutes et tunnel du Mont-Blanc (ATMB) intends to convert “in the medium term”, citing the quality of the road as the reason. air in the Arve valley.

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