Fleet News

Charges could fund new roads

CHARGING motorists for every mile they travel on British roads will reduce congestion and could justify the building of a number of new roads, a report has suggested.

The Independent Transport Commission (ITC), a transport and environment think-tank, said enough money could be raised to put roads in tunnels in built-up areas. It adds that the strongest case for new roads would be in and around areas such as Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and Greater London and in cities ranging in size from Nottingham and Leicester to Lincoln and Cambridge.

Commission chairman Sir Patrick Brown said: ‘We are not advocating the building of new roads.

‘But our research does show a strong business case for using road charging to cut congestion and build roads – some of them in tunnels. Better bus and rail services will, of course, be needed too.’

A separate report commissioned by chancellor Gordon Brown and leaked earlier this month supports road pricing and suggests costs of up to £2 per mile for the busiest and most congested routes (Fleet News, November 16).

It will be published during next week’s pre-budget report.

Transport officials have continually stressed their commitment to road pricing saying it could cut congestion by nearly a half.

The Government has supplied £10 million to a fund to assess the technology that would be used to charge motorists by the mile.

On environmental impact, the latest ITC report says road charging would not alone address all the environmental problems created by motor vehicles, although it would reduce CO2 emissions by thinning out traffic congestion and smoothing traffic flows.

It adds that other actions are needed too including promoting walking, cycling and the use of public transport.

... but lorries may jam them anyway

ROAD congestion could worsen for company motorists if firms that currently use rail to move goods around the country carry out a threat to switch transport modes.

Freight experts say a number of companies face no alternative but to use roads to transport their goods if rail cannot compete on price.

Their warning comes after the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) announced proposals that could see charges to rail freight operators that use the network double in some cases.

A potential price rise is under consultation and ORR officials will deliver its advice to transport ministers in February.

The Freight Transport Association’s Rail Freight Council has discussed the proposals and warns of increased congestion on UK roads.

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