The decision to increase the cost of the M6 Toll has been met with anger from road transport groups.
From Monday, July 30, cars will see the toll rise by between 30p and 50p per journey, while light goods vehicles will have to pay between 10p and 30p more per journey. HGVs will also be subject to price rises of between 20p and 50p, depending on the journey.
As a result, the cost of driving a car along the length of the M6 Toll will increase from £5.90 to £6.40, while trucks will have to pay £11.50 per journey.
The new prices will only apply to light goods vehicles and HGVs between 6am and 11pm, with the road’s operators claiming that night-time fees will be frozen to ‘support’ haulage operators during the M6 roadworks.
According to Andy Cliffe, chief executive of Midland Expressway Limited, which operates the road, a trial scheme will also be introduced to cap prices for local drivers. Under the proposal, ‘at least’ 100 locals will be offered a ‘Hopper’ product that offers a maximum £20 weekly fee for unlimited use of the road.
Cliffe said: ‘Over 18 million journeys were made on the M6 Toll last year, moving a huge volume of traffic off the congested M6 and surrounding A-roads. To continue that shift onto the M6 Toll, I am pleased to announce our new trial of a capped fee for unlimited eligible journeys for local drivers.
‘We are committed to encouraging more vans and HGVs off the M6 and onto the M6 Toll and our price rises for commercial vehicles have been carefully set to ensure that we continue the significant growth in HGV traffic on the M6 Toll that we saw in 2017.’
Despite Cliffe’s positivity, the move has been criticised by haulage groups, which see the price hikes as punitive for businesses.
Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, said: ‘Why has the Midlands Expressway decided to increase the rate for HGVs now – at a time when the price of diesel has just risen by another two pence per litre – adding over £800 per vehicle to a trucker’s annual operating costs?
‘Will an increase of 50p per truck making a daytime journey make that much difference to the toll road’s bank balance? Probably not. But for many small hauliers who have little choice but to pay the toll on a regular basis, it could deter them from using the road altogether.’
The Freight Transport Association, meanwhile, asked for the decision to be ‘reconsidered for the greater good’, pointing out that it could affect air quality around Birmingham.
Chris Yarsley, the association’s policy manager for the Midlands, said: ‘While increases in transport costs are always unwelcome, this announcement is particularly concerning due to its impact on Birmingham’s clear air agenda. The fee increase will encourage some HGVs to abandon the motorway and use those running through Birmingham itself.
‘While the toll increase is within inflation, the alternatives are free, so it will encourage more long-distance movements to use the traditional M6 through Birmingham. The M6 is a key route for UK logistics, and more effort should be made to encourage freight operators to utilise the tolled route away from the urban centre.’