The announcement by M6 toll operator Midland Expressway that goods vehicles are exempt from a planned price increase when using the road has been welcomed by the Freight Transport Association (FTA).
The UK transport trade body says the move will be a boost for freight firms that operate on tight margins, but pointed out that the wider principle of road charging needs an urgent review by Government.
The weekday toll charge on the M6 will increase by 40p for cars from August 7. Midland Expressway says the rise is the first since March 2012 and is a partial catch-up with inflation.
The operator says it wants to encourage more commercial, logistic and freight use of the route, which has grown annually by an average 19% in the past five years, so charges for goods vehicles will remain the same.
Malcolm Bingham, FTA’s head of road network management policy, said: “This is very welcome news for our members, as any increase in toll charges has a direct impact on their businesses. FTA wants to maintain dialogue with Midland Expressway to ensure an acceptable level of toll for freight operators is maintained, as this will make the route financially viable when the M6 is congested.
“However, it is vital that an alternative to the tolled route is always available and that route operators provide a minimum standard of service for the charge, including route availability in severe weather, effective breakdown assistance, minimum transit times and parking and rest facilities. Freight operators will expect value for money and compensation when the service falls short of promised standards.”
FTA regularly consults its members on road charging and has created a road tolling charter which has been presented to Government. The Association says charging across the country should be harmonised to prevent the need for different tags for various routes and crossings. It also calls for charges to be first invested in the route to which they apply to guarantee a high standard of road condition and provision of services.