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Tuesday, 11 June, 2002, 04:51 GMT 05:51 UK
Tolls 'could end' M25 jams
M25 motorway
Traffic on the orbital route is set to swell by 33% in 14 years
A strategy including road tolls and more lanes has been put forward to tackle traffic jams on the M25.

Dubbed the "world's biggest car park" because vehicles are often slowed to standing, the London orbital is the focus of a government-funded study published on Tuesday.

The report concludes that if nothing is done to drastically reduce congestion, the M25 corridor will see a 33% increase in traffic by 2016.

We cannot build our way out of this mess

Friends of the Earth

Among the report's recommendations are that tolls be levied to pay for lane widening and a luxury bus service circling the capital.

Report author David Hardcastle said that the number of cars in the South East is set to increase by three million in 15 years and the existing M25 will not be able to cope.

"To put the brake on this growth, at the same time as addressing congestion on the M25, a package of measures that combines new public transport alternatives with road widening and control of road use is needed," he said.

'Tough on motorists'

Earlier this month, new Transport Secretary Alistair Darling ruled out a network of toll roads in Britain.

It was in reaction to a suggestion by Lord Birt, appointed by Tony Blair to look at transport policy, for a network of "premium" toll roads to be built alongside existing motorways.

But Mr Darling did make it clear he was prepared to get tough with motorists to cut traffic congestion.

The key recommendations in the report by transport consultancy Halliburton are:

  • The establishment of a frequent orbital coach network, co-ordinated by a newly-created Strategic Coach Authority, which would connect key towns in the M25 corridor, providing an alternative to car travel

  • Support for major new rail infrastructure developments such as Crossrail, Thameslink 2000 and Airtrack, alongside improvements to orbital lines such as the North Downs Line

  • Widening the M25, but only in conjunction with measures such as controlled entry to the motorway or segregated lanes for priority vehicles - which are likely to include emergency service vehicles, buses and cars with more than one passenger - and a toll for priority lanes

  • An electronically collected motorway toll.

Mr Hardcastle added: "We believe that for any road widening of the M25 to be sustainable it should be in conjunction with road user change."

Friends of the Earth welcomed some of the strategy's suggestions but said that the motorway must not be widened.

Spokesman Tony Bosworth said: "We cannot build our way out of this mess.

"The government must dramatically improve public transport and develop alternative strategies including road-user charging."

'Extend tolls'

Geoff Dossetter, of the Freight Transport Association, said tolls "simply had to be on the agenda".

"Goods vehicles will be taxed by distance from 2006 using satellite tracking technology," he added.

"However, it is cars that are the primary cause of congestion and it is logical that the technology applied to tax, or 'road toll', goods vehicles, should be extended to cars as soon as possible."

Views on the Consultant's Provisional Strategy are being sought by 31 July.

The Orbit Study's final recommendations will be submitted to regional planning bodies and the Mayor of London in the autumn for consideration.

MotorwayIn a jam
Would you pay to use the motorway?
Would you pay for less congestion?



2538 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

11 Jun 02 | UK
01 Jun 02 | UK Politics
20 May 02 | UK
30 May 02 | UK Politics
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02 Jun 02 | UK Politics
11 Apr 02 | UK Politics
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