The UK government is proposing to cut tolls on the River Severn Crossing, and is looking to introduce All-Electronic or open road tolling (AET/ORT) technology to improve traffic flow.
While on a visit to Wales with the government’s Welsh Secretary, Alun Cairns, UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced that drivers and businesses will benefit from the proposed cuts to Severn Crossing tolls following their return to public ownership. The two motorway bridges, the Severn Bridge and the Second Severn Crossing, are the primary crossings over the Severn estuary, linking England with Wales. Tolls are currently collected on both crossings, only from vehicles traveling in a westerly direction. The government’s proposals would see the prices paid for all vehicles halved, making a significant difference to commuters, travelers, and small businesses in particular, with some drivers seeing savings of more than 75%.
The lower toll charges would be introduced when the crossings return to public ownership and will save drivers and businesses money, helping boost the economy. It is expected that the new toll charges would be introduced in 2018. The government is also looking at removing toll barriers and introducing free-flow tolling on the Severn Crossings that will help cut congestion and improve journey times. The removal of toll barriers and the introduction of free-flow tolling on the Severn Crossings would also allow two-way charging, which could mean the price charged for a single crossing will be halved. The money raised will pay for the operation and maintenance of the crossings, as well as future improvements. Once the crossings return to public ownership they will be managed by Highways England (HE).
Announcing the proposals, Grayling said, “The government is determined to make the right decisions for Britain’s future and reducing the tolls on the Severn Crossings will cut costs for businesses helping boost jobs and trade in Wales and across the Southwest. The future toll prices announced today will not only guarantee the future and safety of the crossings for generations to come, but will also boost the economy, while offering the best value for money for motorists and the taxpayer.”
Cairns commented, “This is excellent news for people living and working in Wales who use the Severn Bridge, particularly van drivers who will pay over 75% less money. These savings will make a huge difference to those who use the crossing regularly and it will provide a major boost to companies pitching for new business, who can now be much more competitive. The Severn Crossing is a vital artery into Wales and reduced tolls demonstrate once again that Wales remains open for business.”