For UK freight operators, the M6 motorway is vital to the logistics of navigating the congested Midlands, and over the past five years commercial use of the motorway has increased by an average of 19% each year. The FTA (Freight Transport Association) has welcomed news that goods vehicles are to be exempt from the latest increases in the toll charge.
A Welcome Exemption
Midland Expressway, the company that operates the toll charge, made the announcement on July 7th that an increase of 40p per car would be implemented from the beginning of August. This is the first price rise since 2012 for private vehicles, but the company says its decision to leave the toll charge the same for commercial vehicles is aimed at encouraging further growth in the use of the motorway and ensuring its financial viability.
The FTA's Head of Road Network Management, Malcolm Bingham, has praised the decision, saying that the move is good news for members who rely on the road and operate on tight margins. However, he stressed the need to keep an active dialogue with Midland Expressway to ensure the toll remains at an acceptable level moving forward.
Mr Bingham also took the opportunity to bring attention to the FTA's road tolling charter, created in consultation with their members, which they have presented to the government. The charter calls for an urgent review into the system of tolls across the country, and the need to create one national method. The charter also advocates for the funds collected from particular routes to be invested into that same route in order to ensure adequate provision of services where they are needed.
Using the M6: At a Glance
Operators of the M6 provide extensive information on their website to ensure commercial users' experience is convenient, reliable and safe.
Commercial Vehicle Facilities: There are different levels of pricing for the various classes of vehicles, including Class 4 (van), Class 5 (HGV) and Class 6 (HGV with 6+ axles). The dedicated HGV lane ensures hold ups and bottlenecks are kept to a minimum, and reducing the need to stop is good news for vehicle wear and tear and fuel consumption.
The MSA (Motorway Services Area) has separate, secure designated parking for HGVs, and there are numerous deals available for free overnight parking, food vouchers and payment of the M6 charge.
How to Pay: There are five options to pay the charge. Drivers can use credit card, fuel cards, cash notes (inc. Euro, change available), coins (unattended, no change) and tags.
Using Tags: This pre-paid electronic system is the simplest and most efficient way of paying the charge. When drivers pass through the dedicated tag lane, the fee is automatically deducted without the need to stop. Once drivers pass through the lane, the tag will bleep and the barrier will rise. Provided there are no technical hitches, there will be no need to stop the vehicle.
The device fits directly to the vehicle's windscreen and must be mounted in the correct bracket (and position) in order to operate correctly. For sloping windscreens a bracket with the car symbol should be used, while for vertical windscreens the bracket with the truck symbol should be used.
The purchase of a tag also offers considerable savings of up to 5% per trip.
Keeping Britain Moving
While the M6 does attract a toll charge, for commercial operators it offers the most reliable and convenient alternative for the transportation of goods through the centre of the country.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides a valuable service, updating members with the latest information on issues affecting road safety, fuel costs, technology, toll charge increases and other news from the industry. Matching delivery work with available vehicles, over 4,500 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.