M6 Toll motorway put up for sale

The Toll
Image caption Figures show an average of 52,735 vehicles used the road per week day between October and December last year, compared with 45,890 a year earlier

The M6 Toll road has been put for sale for nearly £2bn, the BBC understands.

The 27-mile route between Cannock and Coleshill in the West Midlands opened in 2003 at a cost of £900m to build.

A debt-restructuring process led to a consortium of 27 banks effectively taking ownership of the loss-making road from Midlands Expressway Ltd. It is now selling its equity stake.

Despite the toll road losing money each year, it is thought the banks want to recover about £1.9bn from the sale.

Haulier Mark Matthias, from TJR Express, said: "I use a lot of French tolls and I've never understood the 'one cost' here. It should be charged per mile.

"In the evenings, Spanish tolls let all trucks go for €1. It (M6 Toll) would make more money if they reduced the price. There aren't enough concessions for truckers."

'Reduce congestion'

The National Alliance Against Tolls believes the government should buy the motorway and remove the charge to reduce congestion.

Bridget Fox from Campaign for Better Transport said: "The M6 Toll has proved a costly failure and [provided] no relief of congestion on the main M6, as well as negative impacts on the environment.

"We need better public transport for inter-city routes so people have real alternatives when it comes to travelling into our crowded town and city centres."

Councillor Darren Cooper, a West Midlands Combined Authority representative, believes the charge should be removed and is proposing to seek government support to buy the motorway stretch.

Latest figures show an average of 52,735 vehicles used the road per week day between October and December last year, compared with 45,890 in 2014.

Car drivers are charged £5.50 and HGVs £11 to use the road during the week.

Analysis: BBC Midlands Today Transport Correspondent Peter Plisner

The reason they're selling now is quite interesting. They seem to think now that the asset value is at its highest.

And the number of people using the road is at an all-time high and that brings in revenue. The interest payments on the debts are lower than they've ever been and that will affect this road's profitability.

It has always lost money - £25m on average each year. But we're going to see a difference when we see the next accounts because of all these changes. And that leads the 27 banks to decide to sell now.

Image copyright BBC Elvis
Image caption The M6 Toll opened in 2003

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