National £1.50-a-mile road toll proposed

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The Independent Online

A government-funded study of how to cut traffic congestion will outline plans for a national scheme of road charging, with motorists paying up to £1.50 a mile for journeys.

A government-funded study of how to cut traffic congestion will outline plans for a national scheme of road charging, with motorists paying up to £1.50 a mile for journeys.

The year-long investigation has concluded that a nationwide charging scheme could drastically reduce mounting congestion and provide an answer to the transport crisis that many predict for the future.

The scheme, the details of which are reported in The Observertoday, would involve equipping the country's 30 million cars with electronic chips so that they could be followed with a satellite tracking system.

The plans, commissioned by Alistair Darling, the Secretary of State for Transport, were compiled by environmentalists, economists, transport analysts and motoring groups. Early estimates suggest that they could raise more than £10bn a year for the Treasury, and boost the economy by another £12bn. Urban areas, where congestion is the worst, would see the most road charging.

The authors reportedly proposed 11 different models, each featuring a range of charges. At the most extreme, a fee of nearly £1.50 per mile (90 pence per km), could cut urban congestion by 50 per cent and reduce congestion on trunk roads by a third. But only a small percentage of drivers would pay the top rate.

London and Durham have road charging schemes in place. Other cities are looking closely at their example. Last week the Department of Transport caused controversy with plans for a second section of M6 toll road, between Birmingham and Manchester to add to the Birmingham Northern Relief Road.

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