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Free-flow on the A14: Another step towards the deployment of free-flow on the French motorway network 

After the A79 in 2022, the year 2024 marks a decisive turning point in motorway infrastructure in France, with the opening of the A13 and A14 free-flow freeways. By the end of 2024, we'll be talking about hundreds of kilometers of free-flow freeway in France. This technological breakthrough promises not only to improve traffic flow, but also to reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, paving the way for a comprehensive modernization of the French motorway network. 

What is free flow? 

You'll have to get used to this word and the system it's based on. Free flow is a barrier-free tolling technology that allows vehicles to circulate without interruption, eliminating the need to stop at toll gates. The system relies on sensors, cameras and license plate recognition devices to automatically identify vehicles. As a result, drivers can pass through toll gates without slowing down, considerably improving traffic flow. 

The A14 freeway: France's pioneer of free flow 

From June 2024, the A14 freeway linking Paris to La Défense will be the second freeway in France to adopt this innovative toll system, after the A79. This decision is part of a wider drive to modernize transport infrastructures in response to growing mobility needs and environmental challenges.

The introduction of free-flow on the A14 was motivated by several factors. Firstly, this freeway is one of the busiest in the country, serving as the main transport route between western Paris and the La Défense business district. Frequent traffic jams at toll booths were a source of frustration for users and contributed to air pollution. Switching to free-flow means that traffic flows more smoothly and CO2 emissions are reduced, making journeys faster and more pleasant. 



Deployment of free flow on the French motorway network

Building on the lessons learned on the A79, the French government is planning to roll out free flow to the whole country. This ambitious project will require significant investment in terms of technology and infrastructure, but the expected benefits are well worth the effort.

Large-scale deployment of free flow is seen as a sustainable solution to road congestion problems. At present, many motorways in France suffer from frequent traffic jams, particularly at peak times and during vacation periods. Free flow would smooth out these traffic peaks, improving traffic flow for millions of users. 

Payment methods: a point of concern 

The payment methods associated with free flow also raise concerns. The current system relies on license plate reading and the use of electronic toll badges.  

Without an electronic toll tag, you will have to go to a Nirio office or an online payment system, which can be difficult to use for certain populations. We're thinking, for example, of foreign customers from the Netherlands or Germany, who come to France very often. This could lead to payment delays, additional fines and widespread distrust of the system. 


The benefits of free-flow 

The adoption of free flow on the A14 offers a number of advantages. Firstly, it cuts journey times by eliminating the need to stop at toll gates. Motorists thus gain in comfort and efficiency.

What's more, traffic flow contributes to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a significant environmental benefit.  For heavy goods vehicles, for example, every time a truck stops at a tollgate, it consumes around 1 liter of fuel.

Deployment challenges 

However, the widespread introduction of free flow on all French freeways will not be without its challenges. One of the main obstacles is the cost of installing the necessary equipment. Sensors, cameras and license plate recognition devices represent a heavy investment.

The transition will require a period of adjustment for motorists, who will have to get used to this new mode of operation and perhaps change their payment habits by adopting the electronic toll tag. 

The A79 in free-flow mode 

The A79 freeway, the first in France to adopt free-flow, has had very positive results. The benefits in terms of traffic flow and reduced pollutant emissions are indisputable. It has also revitalized the communities along and served by the A79. 

Transition to sustainable mobility 

Despite these challenges, the switch to free-flow represents a crucial step towards more sustainable mobility. By reducing traffic jams and CO2 emissions, this system contributes to the fight against climate change. What's more, it is part of a global trend towards smarter, more connected transport infrastructures.

Free-flow could also serve as a springboard for other mobility innovations. For example, the integration of this system with autonomous vehicles could further improve traffic flow and road safety. Similarly, real-time data collection could be used to develop intelligent mobility applications, providing users with precise, up-to-date information on traffic conditions.


The opening of the A14 freeway to free-flow traffic is a major milestone in the modernization of France's motorway infrastructure. This system promises not only to improve traffic flow and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also to pave the way for future innovations in mobility. Deploying free flow on all France's freeways represents an ambitious but necessary challenge to meet growing mobility needs and environmental imperatives.

Ultimately, this transition to free flow could well transform the driving experience on French freeways, offering faster, more comfortable and more environmentally-friendly journeys. However, concerns over payment methods will need to be resolved to ensure the long-term success of this system. The benefits of this system go beyond simple time savings, encompassing economic, environmental and social benefits that will be felt for many years to come.


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