Hauliers agency slams M6 toll charges

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has voiced its "disappointment" over rates that have been set for a toll road on one of Britain's main routes.

The 27-mile three-lane toll motorway – the first of its kind in Britain – will bypass Birmingham where increasing traffic volume and poor planning has brought about some of the UK's worst congestion problems. The £485 million road system is currently under construction, and is scheduled to be open by early 2004.

But today, the RHA attacked the government after Midland Expressway Ltd, the operators of the M6 toll road, struck the rate for heavy goods vehicles at £10.

Despite reductions for the first 10 million vehicles on the road, and for night-time travelling, the discounts say the RHA provide "small comfort for those with little alternative but to use the M6 Expressway on a regular basis".

RHA Chief Executive Roger King said: "These toll levels are too high for regular users. A return journey will cost twice as much. This is not rocket science, it's a simple economic calculation on the part of the haulier.

"This is yet another cost to an industry that is already operating within the tightest of margins. There are those who will be fortunate enough to be able to pass on the additional cost; there are those who will not.

"We are not convinced that such a major strategic road should be a private project when the road users in this country already pay so much for so little."

The RHA said that it would meet with the route's operators to negotiate frequent user discounts.

It is understood that car drivers will pay £3 and van drivers will pay £5 for using the road.

Elsewhere, more details have emerged on the lorry road-user charge which is expected to be introduced by 2006. The charge will see all hauliers, irrespective of nationality, pay for driving on UK roads.

For UK hauliers, however, the charge will be accompanied by a reduction in fuel duty - so, according to the government, there will be no increase in the tax burden on the UK haulage industry as a whole.

The charge will be phased in, starting with the heaviest lorries. Eventually all lorries (i.e. heavy goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes) will pay the charge for distances travelled on all UK roads.


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