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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 May, 2003, 10:19 GMT 11:19 UK
Road toll levy announced
M6 Toll map
The 27-mile road will cost 485m

Car drivers will have to pay 3 to use the UK's first private motorway at peak times, with a discounted rate of 2 for the first ten million vehicles.

However, lorries will have to pay 11 although VAT included in this price will be recoverable by haulage operators. Van drivers will be charged 5 and motorcyclists 2.

The 27-mile stretch in the West Midlands opens in January 2004.

The 485m road will run from junction four of the M6 south of Birmingham via the north east of the city, then back to the M6 at junction 11 north of Birmingham.

M6 TOLL
27 miles long, three lanes
Follows junction 4 to 11 of M6
M6 was designed for 72,000 vehicles per day - it currently carries 180,000
New toll road will have 50 bridges, eight toll stations and new services

Private operators Midland Expressway Ltd (MEL) announced the rates on Tuesday.

The rate for cars will be reduced to 1 for cars between the hours of 2300 BST and 0600 BST.

MEL managing director Tom Fanning said: "We've set the price at a level we believe offers good value to motorists, vans and HGV users.

"For car drivers it's the same as two cups of coffee in a service station."

But while the Freight Transport Association (FTA) welcomed the new road, it said the toll was a "distress purchase" to lorry operators.

It had hoped for a lower rate of 5 for lorries which would have made the road a route of automatic choice.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Yes I would pay if they abolish road tax
Louise Callaby, England

FTA chief executive Richard Turner said: "The M6 motorway in the Birmingham area is at the very heart of UK industrial movements.

"The new M6 Toll provides a welcome bypass to the thrombosis of congestion in the area.

"It is very unfortunate that we have had to rely on the private sector to deal with one of the country's congestion hot spots.

"The government's roads programme has simply not been adequate enough to recognise the problem and then act to provide the extra road capacity needed to meet the needs of what is the world's fourth largest economy."

Rush-hour ease

He added: "We had hoped for a lorry rate of around 5 making the decision to use the road by lorry fleets very simple.

"However, the road is there, transport managers will make their choice and if the rate is wrong no doubt it will be changed."

Apart from sections of the M25 around London, the M6 skirting Birmingham is the busiest stretch of road in Britain.

It is very unfortunate that we have had to rely on the private sector to deal with one of the country's congestion hot spots
Richard Turner
Freight Transport Association

Designed for 72,000 vehicles per day, this section of the M6 currently carries 180,000, at an average speed of 17 mph between junctions 4 and 11.

It has been estimated that the new road could save drivers up to 45 minutes off the current M6 rush-hour journey time.

Drivers will have the choice of staying on the M6 or switching to the toll road.

MEL managing director Tom Fanning said: "We've set the price at a level we believe offers good value to motorists, vans and HGV users.

"For car drivers it's the same as two cups of coffee in a service station."




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Robert Hall
"Today's news has divided M6 regulars"



SEE ALSO:
New toll motorways 'plan' panned
19 May 02  |  UK News
Most drivers 'would pay tolls'
17 May 02  |  UK News
Road tolls 'inevitable'
02 May 02  |  UK News


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