M6 Toll charges could be scrapped to combat congestion

M6 Toll charges could be scrapped to combat congestion

M6 Toll charges could be scrapped to combat congestion

An MP has branded the M6 Toll a ‘rich person’s motorway’ in the House of Commons and called for charges to be dropped when required in a bid to reduce congestion on nearby motorways.

It comes after a serious crash in February left the M6 closed for 24 hours, resulting in chaos on nearby roads.

The issue was debated in the House of Commons after Solihull MP Julian Knight made the suggestion that toll charges should be dropped in situations like this.

He said: “If the M6 toll is to serve the best interests of the West Midlands and our economy as it was built to, we must see fundamental reform of how it operates, especially during gridlock and crisis situations.”

It’s already possible for the M6 Toll to be opened to the public for free when required, but owner Midlands Expressway demands a payment of £300,000 per day plus VAT – meaning it’s never actually happened. The cost of the incident in February to the local economy caused by traffic issues was estimated to exceed £40 million.

The 27-mile stretch of motorway costs £5.50 for car drivers on weekdays, dropping to £4.80 at weekends and £3.80 at night.

Knight added: “We should also consider lowering the day-to-day costs of the M6 Toll.”

MPs recently called for the Government to buy the M6 Toll and reduce the fees faced by the 50,000 drivers who use it every year.

M6 and M6 Toll

M6 Toll for sale: should the government buy a motorway?

M6 and M6 TollThe M6 Toll motorway has been put up for sale by the banks that own it – for a reported asking price of almost £2 billion.

This is to recover £1.9 billion of debts from the perennially loss-making motorway, which cost £900 million to build (a figure that was privately funded) and is said to lose around £25 million a year.

That’s despite charging car drivers a weekday flat fee of £5.50 to use it; HGVs pay £11 to avoid M6 congestion.

The 27-mile toll motorway, which first opened in 2003, is used by around 50,000 vehicles a year, compared to the 200,000 vehicles that pass through the ‘free’ M6 spaghetti junction.

And it is this stark under-utilisation, coupled with regular gridlock around the rest of the West Midlands motorway network, that is leading calls for the government to nationalise the M6 Toll motorway.

‘Buy the M6 Toll’

“This is a once in a generation opportunity to take this asset into public ownership and make it possible for it to work more effectively for the West Midlands and the rest of the UK,” Conservative MP Gavin Williamson told regional paper the Express & Star.

“Potentially you could still charge to use it, but at a much lower rate that makes it possible for more people to use it regularly, creating a far higher rate of usage than at present.”

And although the West Midlands already has lots of free motorways, including the M5, M6, M40 and M42, Williamson said opening up the M6 Toll would be a worthwhile investment that would “transform the situation and improve the way the motorway network works for the people of the West Midlands.

“We don’t have a lack of motorways in the West Midlands, what we have is a motorway that is massively under used.”