Road pricing: More new roads could be funded by tolls

 
M6 toll road gates The report is expected to be ready in the new year

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A plan to fund new roads using tolls which drivers would pay to private companies is to be included in the coalition's new policy agenda.

A recently approved upgrade to the A14 in Cambridgeshire could be the first building project funded by tolls.

The policy programme - for the second half of the coalition - is expected to be set out in the new year.

A spokesman said the DfT was looking at tolling schemes to fund "new capacity in very limited circumstances".

In the Autumn Statement earlier this month, Chancellor George Osborne announced that a feasibility study would be carried out by the Department for Transport.

It will explore whether private sector companies could own new roads and how new road building projects could be funded.

The spokesman said the government had made a "clear commitment" not to toll parts of the existing road network and that position "has not changed".

He added: "We have always said we would look at schemes which would fund significant new capacity through tolling. This would be in very limited circumstances and only where schemes deliver new roads or transform an existing road literally beyond all recognition."

Massive taxation

More than 20 national road building schemes have been approved by the government, and currently only the A14 improvement scheme is being considered for tolling.

Start Quote

There's something in the region of £50bn taken in road-related taxes every year and the government spends a small fraction of that on the roads”

End Quote Peter Roberts Alliance of British Drivers

BBC political correspondent Chris Mason said road tolling was seen by its supporters "as a more sophisticated way of charging motorists for using the roads than vehicle excise and fuel duty".

Our correspondent added: "Tolling can take account of where and when a driver is using certain roads, but road tolls are a very visible charge and likely to prove rather tricky to sell to a largely sceptical electorate."

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said the government was looking for radical solutions to the "chronic problems" of congestion and rising traffic levels due to population growth and under-investment.

"As always the devil will be in the detail. Who would be the winners and losers under a change of regulation and would the already massive amount of tax taken from motorists rise overall?" he said.

"Drivers rightly feel they are already been squeezed and any change has to deliver real benefits not just more financial misery."

In 2007, about 1.8 million people registered their objection to road-pricing in a petition on the Downing Street website.

Peter Roberts, from the Alliance of British Drivers which organised the petition, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that tolls would be a political disaster.

"There's something in the region of £50bn taken in road-related taxes every year and the government spends a small fraction of that on the roads, so it's not as if we're not paying for the roads already," he said.

"It's not fair that at the moment that the government should take such a massive amount of tax in road-related taxation and spend such a pitiful amount on the roads."

There are already examples of tolls on the UK road network, such as the London congestion charge and at the Dartford Crossing.

The M6 Toll road, which aims to alleviate the increasing congestion on the M6 through Birmingham and the Black Country, opened in 2003.

In March, the prime minister David Cameron called for an "urgent" increase in private investment to improve England's road network.

He said tolls for new roads were one option, alongside attracting more money from pension funds and other investors.

 

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 304.

    So if these are going to be private roads, and not part of the public road network, then surely the Highway Code does not apply, so I can speed with impunity. I guess also that the police will not be able to put speed cameras on them either for the same reason.

    Or am I just hoping for a bright side to double taxation ?

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 303.

    More tax for something we are directly taxed for at least twice and indirectly at least twice again. Giving away strategically important stretches oh OUR highway will lead to another franchise mess in the future

  • rate this
    +18

    Comment number 302.

    One of the main underpinnings of a nation state is the provision of basic services at a flat rate - a postal service that costs the same irrespective of distance, water and electricity wherever needed and roads according to need, not just usage. This proposal is not a huge thing in itself perhaps, but it is yet another minor erosion of the foundations of something we should all value much more,

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 301.

    Even MORE roads? More pollution, more congestion, more flash-floods from all the run-off. Except, if they are toll roads hardly anyone will use them - like the useless M6 Toll.
    Increase duty on fuel to fund public transport and enforce the (inadequate) laws of the road and adopt an assumption of guilt to drivers harming pedestrians - as with all other lethal machines.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 300.

    I remember when the Dartford Tunnel was supposed to become Toll free after the project had been paid for by the tolls and the government said it would be free from then on! What Happened?? Well the government sold it it the French!! Of course they bought it to allow us all free passage across the Thames??!! Yeah right!!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 299.

    @263&251

    That's good that your local public transport is efficient enough to allow you to get to and from work, however mine isn't. The multiple changes and distance between times and bus/train stations means I wouldn't be able to maintain my work hours and still have a home life.

  • rate this
    +18

    Comment number 298.

    Two tunnels built under the River Mersey which were supposed to pay for themselves with tolls and become free. Here we are many years later still paying tolls which are now swallowed up by the local authorities. Why do motorists always get the short end of the stick.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 297.

    Geejay
    Why do we all put up with this sort of attitude by the government??
    Vote with you feet. Complain like a lot of other countries do and make yourself heard!! Stop procrastinating and do something!

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 296.

    242. STEVEATIG
    I thought that the Road Fund Tax paid for this already?
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    road fund tax doesn't exist, it vehicle excise duty which is paid as general tax rather than anything specific on the roads.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 295.

    Why not make all hgv travelling down M6 heading south of Birmingham use the toll road? This would alleviate traffic problems around M6/M5 junction at a stroke.
    Banning lorries overtaking on hilly sections would also help, and avoid the need to build new roads

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 294.

    Ah! If only politicians could be trusted! The tolls will simply go the way of Road Tax and Petrol Duty. Imagine what some future motorist hating Red Ken and his loony mates would do with a cash cow like that!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 293.

    163.Malcolm Sutherland

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 292.

    The only way Toll roads become profitable, is if there is no alternative, or it is that costly to "drive around" it then it is used, even then a lot of people would rather pay for the fuel than give it to the Toll Company.

    The only way the M40 would fund itself is if all the alternatives were closed.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 291.

    @263Lucky ole you.
    My experience of rural dwelling :- 2 Buses a day, 7 miles to actually get to the route where the bus runs, Expensive fares unreliable service.
    Consider yourself fortunate, I do not think it's the majority at all, the aggravation of trying to park when you get into most towns as well as the fees would make most people use public transport given the chance

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 290.

    142. Old Priorian

    Car tax could only fund a miniscule amount of what is spent on building, maintaining, sweeping, cleaning, policing, lighting etc of highways. Even fuel duty doesn't cover the real costs...



    I have no idea where you got your figures, but VED (or car tax as you call it) easily covers all the costs several times over. As for fuel duty, that runs in to many many billions.

  • rate this
    +17

    Comment number 289.

    "Privatisation is a cancer that is destroying the Public services and the people of this country with it."

    Very true Dave but don't believe the Tory lies as to why we are in this mess. Labour didn't cause a global recession, the bankers did,
    The Public sector hasn't seen the worse of the Con/Dem cuts.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 288.

    Seriously don't we motorists already pay enough??? £170 (a little less for smaller cars) from every motorist to drive on pot-hole ridden roads. I for one will be avoiving toll roads like the plague!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 287.

    oh lord stop breathing it will be Air they tax next !! stop privatising everything , look at transport , water , gas ,electric, and who owns them foreign companies , we may as well just give the country away the only good thing about doing that is we would lose all our mps. but you could bet they would get a golden handshake ..

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 286.

    On a few use the Birmingham Relief Road as most choose to sit in the M6 jams & wont pay the extortionate toll price. So tearing up the countryside for which is nothing more than a white elephant was a complete waste of time and money and, was another knife through our countryside . Next is the H20, great . We're hold to ransom by energy, water companies and it'll be the same with the roads .

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 285.

    Don't we already pay tax for the roads?

 

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