TRAFFIC: Cost of congestion for business tops pounds 1.8bn

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Motorway jams have cost British business pounds 1.8bn in the three months since April, it was claimed yesterday. The congestion was even worse than it had been in the same period last year, said Trafficmaster - a company which specialises in collecting traffic statistics.

The most badly affected motorway this year was the M25. The new figures were published just a day after the Government deferred a decision on widening the busiest stretch of the orbital highway. After the M25, the next worst congested areas were the Midlands and the North-East of England.

The second quarter of 1997 saw 37 million man-hours lost on motorways, involving 53 million vehicles. About 1.2 million motorists were caught in congestion on an average day during this period.

A typical June day on the M25 saw about 557,000 motorists waste the equivalent of 11,600 days in lost time.

The bleak picture has meant many local authorities have been forced to consider drastic traffic restraint measures. In Bristol, experts yesterday presented city councillors with proposals for an electronic toll system to encircle the city..

The researchers considered four concentric toll cordons, stretching up to 10 miles from the city centre. Motorists could be charged between pounds 6 and pounds 8 for their daily journey. Randeep Ramesh