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Customs set for £4bn road scheme

Lindsay Clark
IT suppliers have submitted their bids for a £4bn Customs and Excise IT project to create a system for charging haulage firms for their road usage.

Customs is developing the Lorry Road-User Charge so that hauliers, regardless of nationality, pay an amount related to the distance they travel on UK roads.

Problems with a similar system in Germany, based on satellite navigation technology, has led to the resignation of a transport minister.

Analyst firm Imput said the UK is learning from other countries' experiences, but research manager Thomas Sommerauer said Customs is taking on significant risk with its project design.

The project will be split into three lots, central services, enforcement services and charging data services. Suppliers will be able to bid for specific lots or all three. "The greatest pitfall is if they have three different suppliers," Sommerauer said.

"There is some integration risk because there is no prime contractor. If the contractors fall out or systems are not compatible, it could be difficult. Customs has to make sure it has the systems in place to deal with this."

A Customs representative said, "Integration and manageable contracts are key issues that would be carefully handled."

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