Transport secretary Chris Grayling has branded motorway service station fuel prices as 'exploitative' and called for an investigation into them.

Service station prices could be up to 19p more per litre than regular forecourts according to reports, and that Moto, Welcome Break and RoadChef – the UK's main service station operators – should be looked at to ensure drivers got a 'fairer deal'.

According to the BBC, Roadchef said it did not set fuel prices, while Moto said prices reflected the cost of building and running services, saying that many of its fuel company-owned forecourts had prices set to prices to 'reflect the complexities of motorway trading, such as round the clock opening,' insisting that 'where the forecourt is owned by Moto, we match the fuel company's price.'

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Figures published this week show that the average price for unleaded petrol at motorway services is 137.7p per litre, compared to an overall UK average of 120.1p per litre and a supermarket average of 116.7p. The high motorway fuel prices could equate to motorsists spending more than £10 more at the pumps.

Meanwhile, RAC figures from 2011 pointed to 7.5p price difference between motorway services and the national average, showing that the situation has got worse in the last seven years.

Writing to Andrea Coscelli, head of the Competition and Markets Authority, Grayling says: 'I am concerned that prices which are higher than other forecourts may exploit users in a situation where there is less choice and competition and discourage motorists from stopping and re-fuelling when, for safety reasons, they should.'

'I would welcome a view from the CMA on whether the three private companies that currently operate the majority of MSAs (motorway service areas) are exercising market power to the detriment of motorists,' he added.


Gallery: UK parliament