Fleet News

Government ditches A14 toll as it unveils infrastructure plan

The Government has decided against introducing road pricing to help pay for the planned A14 scheme between Cambridge and Huntingdon, construction of which is planned to start in 2016.

The Department for Transport was hoping to raise about 20% – or £300 million – of the total cost of the improvements to the A14 upgrade by tolling the 12-mile stretch.

However, with no alternative route available, local MPs, business lobby groups and the AA had criticised the scheme.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said: “We’ve listened to the consultation responses and we’ve come to the decision that when this road goes ahead in three years’ time there will be no toll. This will not lead to any delay in delivery and the cost will be covered by Government.”

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) had also challenged the planned fundamental changes to the road including toll charging (the first for a decade since the M6 Toll was introduced), and voiced its concern to the Highways Agency (HA) through consultation, saying that the financial shortfall would have to be picked up by those using the route, including the transport and logistics industry.

“At last, common sense has prevailed regarding the A14 tolls,” said Malcolm Bingham, FTA head of road network management policy.

“FTA believes that this can only be good news for businesses in the area by improving vital infrastructure which supports the local economy and provides a vital strategic national link.”

The HA consultation had suggested that tolls could be set between £1.00 and £1.50 for cars and double that for larger vehicles, but  there were no ‘firm’ tariffs which FTA members could take and use to see if there was any benefit or cost to their operation.  

In addition, FTA also said that it was vitally important that freight operators know what the administration arrangements would be for such a toll, and if  any ‘offers’ were likely to be available for fleet schemes.

The proposed £1.5 billion scheme was announced by the HA in September 2013, when the proposed new 12-mile Huntingdon bypass were unveiled as part of a package of improvements to the heavily congested stretch in East Anglia, which carries traffic from the port of Felixstowe to the Midlands on the 22-mile route. The plan had been to raise 20% of the overall £1.5bn cost from tolls.

Bingham said: “FTA members have been concerned about the proposed tolling of that stretch of the A14, due to the lack of a suitable free alternative route to the proposed tolled section; this would inevitably have forced motorists on to the tolled section of the route.”

The announcement also included plans for the insurance industry to invest £25 billion in infrastructure.

The new national infrastructure plan containing information on over £375 billion of planned public and private sector infrastructure investment has been announced by the Government.

The plan sets out investment for energy, transport, flood defence, waste, water and communications infrastructure up to 2030 and beyond.

It includes steps to convert public sector car fleets to electric vehicles investing £5 million in a pilot during the year 2014 to 2015.

And an aim to make the UK a world centre for the testing and development of driverless cars. The Government will conduct a review to ensure that the legislative and regulatory framework to support this aim reporting late 2014.

It will also create a £10 million prize fund for a town or city to develop as a testing ground for driverless cars

To read the National Infrastructure Plan document, click here.

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