Toll roads are no answer to congestion, says campaign group

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The M6 Toll in the West Midlands has been a costly failure and the Government should not rely on them to solve transport problems, according to a new report released today by Campaign for Better Transport.

Earlier this year Transport Secretary Philip Hammond signalled an interest in using tolls to pay for future road building schemes, most of which are expected to be halted after the October spending review. However, this report shows the 27-mile toll motorway has failed to provide any significant congestion relief for the original M6 and the price, which has been increased significantly year on year, is bad value for drivers who use the toll.

Despite the toll now charging motorists £5 on weekdays, 2.5 times the initial cost, the report shows that operator Midland Expressway Ltd, a subsidiary of the international infrastructure group Macquarie, is losing tens of millions every year and has written down the value of the road to below its cost. Meanwhile, M6 congestion is now so bad that the Government is considering spending another £500m on it to deal with the problems the toll road was supposed to solve.

Richard George, Campaign for Better Transport’s Roads and Climate Campaigner, said:

“The research shows that the toll road has failed to cut congestion on the original M6 and has made big losses for its operator. With Government coffers running empty, it is no surprise that politicians are looking at toll roads as a way to deliver funds for new road building projects. But our research shows that private toll roads such as the M6 Toll don’t help motorists or the surrounding area, and don’t make money for investors either.

“Instead, the Government needs to spend scarce public funds on maintaining the roads we have and giving people good alternatives to car use.”

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