Plans for the new road started in 1980, with the aim of easing congestion on the M6 through Birmingham and the Black Country, where 180,000 vehicles per day were using a road designed for only 72,000. It was announced that the road would be built in 1989, with private (as opposed to central Government) financing and the resulting contract was for a 53-year concession to build and operate the road.
Construction work began in the summer of 2002 and The M6 Toll opened in December 2003. Various changes to the initial toll pricing have had to be applied to encourage uptake and usage, especially amongst the heavy goods vehicle sector.
However, toll roads remain an unpopular concept in the UK, mainly due to the high level of the cost for the road vehicle licence, which many feel is a de facto charge for using roads that are already in place.
The rising cost of running a vehicle
The costs of running a vehicle in the UK today are one of the main talking topics for drivers of all kinds. Whether your car, van or motor cycle use makes up a large part of your daily routine or is perhaps little more than an occasional hobby, it is a fact that rising costs have hit the pockets of road users extremely hard.
The M6 Toll Road currently charges £5.50 for a car and £11 for a HGV, and these costs have received criticism from drivers who see them as adding significantly to the cost of keeping their vehicle on the road.
Fuel rises are a concern to everyone as well – even non drivers – as they are reflected in the prices of goods in shops due to the increase in transportation and delivery costs. Elsewhere, car insurance prices have been rising steadily over the past few years. As a legal requirement, a proper policy of cover for your vehicle is not something that a road user can go without if they dont want to incur criminal prosecution.
It is common in other countries around Europe for major roads and motorway networks to have a toll element and charge the users. In the UK it is something that various Governments consider from time to time, but seem to fear the response of the driving lobby.
The Dartford Crossing is part of the M25 London Orbital motorway system and has solely acted as a toll bridge since it was constructed. Initially set up to recoup the costs of building and construction across a wide span of the Thames, there is now quite a lot of speculation as to whether or not the charge should be waived to increase the movement of traffic, or if more modern systems such as licence plate recognition cameras could be utilised to speed up the operation.