Severn Bridge toll cut could result in ‘strain’ on roads

Severn Bridge toll cut could result in ‘strain’ on roads
Tolls on the two bridges crossing the Severn have been cut for the first time in history after they passed over into public ownership.

The charge for private cars travelling across the bridges dropped from £6.70 to £5.60 as Highways England took control and the cost of VAT was removed by the government.

The Road Haulage Association has welcomed the reduction, but warned lower costs and increased traffic could put a strain on roads.

The tolls are set to be scrapped altogether by the end of 2018, with First Minister Carwyn Jones and other MPs calling for this to happen immediately.

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The Road Haulage Association’s Chief Executive Richard Burnett said: “The eventual removal of tolls will be a tremendous boost to the local businesses and haulage firms who rely on these major routes.

“However, the inevitable increase in traffic will put a big strain on the current infrastructure. Hauliers and businesses need strong reassurance that, as the deadline for the end of tolls approaches, the necessary steps needed to maintain smooth traffic flow are put in place as a matter of urgency.

“If the roads can’t cope then any potential savings will be in vain.”

The bridges were previously run by Severn River Crossing PLC, whose revenue for tolling came in between £8m and £10m a month in 2017.

They have since handed the running of both bridges to the Department for Transport, who will keep up the lower fees until the end of the year to phase out the toll and make up maintenance costs.

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However, in a recent tweet, Mr Jones called for the tolls to be scrapped sooner.

He wrote: “Welcome news for businesses & commuters - although the #severnbridge tolls should be scrapped now, not at the end of the year."

Newport West MP Paul Flynn also condemned the move to continue tolling and labelled it “highway robbery”.

Mr Flynn said: “Wales has been subjected to highway robbery by tolling from when the first bridge opened in 1966.

"We have been uniquely punished. This month we should be ending the tolls altogether - to continue them is a rip off.

"It is entirely unjustified. The UK government are very reluctant to give up a cash cow."

The Welsh government is already estimating that abolishing the toll will boost the Welsh economy by around £100 million a year.

Currently there are 23 tolls in the UK, 18 of which are river crossings. You can find out where they all are in our guide to UK toll roads and bridges.

Copyright Press Association 2018. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.