Lorries to access M6 toll road for free throughout July
Lorries have been given permission to use the M6 toll road for free for a month.
Operator Midland Expressway Limited (MEL) has agreed to let members of the Road Haulage Association access the route free of charge throughout July.
The trial will see if using the road, instead of the M6, benefits businesses.
The road opened in 2003 and links junction 11a of the M6 near Cannock, Staffordshire, to Junction 3a at Coleshill, Warwickshire.'Under-utilised asset'
The Black Country LEP, The Association of Black Country Authorities (ABCA) and the Black Country Chamber of Commerce have been lobbying for better use of the road to help with network congestion.
Colin Leighfield, chair of Black Country Chamber of Commerce's transport group, said: "This is an important and long overdue first step in maximising the potential of the toll road, which is one of our region's most under-utilised assets.
"Evidence from members demonstrates that regular use of the toll road for most freight and logistics firms is just not financially viable at current prices."
For a company that makes its money from charging drivers, including lorries, to use a 27-mile stretch of highway it seems strange that it is now giving it away for free.
Add to that the fact that the M6 Toll has struggled to make a profit since it opened and the decision to allow HGV's to use it for nothing seems bizarre.
However, stand on any bridge above the road and you can't fail to notice the lack of HGV traffic.
The problem is at £11 one-way it is expensive and with fuel costs rising it is a luxury many haulage firms can not afford.
It is thought that the move by Midland Expressway will help to promote the road amongst those firms who don't use it and in the long-term help encourage more HGV traffic in the future.
Currently, the standard toll for a car on weekdays is £5.50 and £11 for an HGV.
Mr Leighfield said that the first indication to measure the trial by is if there are more vehicles using the toll and then feedback by the Road Haulage Association.Shorter, quicker route
Nick Payne, Road Haulage Association Midlands (RHA) and western regional director said: "Hopefully the members will see the benefit of using the toll road.
"Obviously it's good for both of us and in that respect, it will help them [Midland Expressway] get new leads for their database and it will also help our members check whether or not it's a viable proposition for them.
"We negotiated on behalf of the members to make their businesses hopefully more viable with regards to saving time and money by using the shorter, quicker route, and hopefully it will make a difference to them to the point where they will actually want to use it on an ongoing basis."