Motorway tolls will rise at peak times: MacGregor says road pricing will be used to control traffic

THE GOVERNMENT made it clear yesterday that it will use motorway tolls to control traffic, not simply to raise money.

John MacGregor, the Secretary of State for Transport, said traffic management was a central goal, second only to raising revenue to build new roads.

Charges on some stretches would be raised during peak periods to deter drivers and alleviate congestion, he said in a speech to an international gathering of nearly 600 representatives of companies developing electronic toll systems.

He said such differential pricing was one of the key advantages of electronic charging. 'At present, for much of the day, the British motorway network is free-flowing, even at the most notorious congestion points. But there are times when we all try to use parts of the network at the same time.' He urged individual motorists to face the costs of this: 'Congestion, stop-start driving, frustration, waste of time and pollution.'

He said differential charging to smooth out peaks would help traffic flow more freely. Toll operators would be able to use the motorway network to its full potential.

Mr MacGregor said councils fearful that tolls would push traffic onto their roads should take heart from the fact that he intended to set prices low, at a few pence per mile, about one-fifth of the average in some European countries.

He said that although city road pricing was further away than motorway tolls, early motorway systems should be planned with a view to being extended to urban roads. At the very least, the technology behind the two pricing systems should be compatible.

Mr MacGregor also emphasised the need for toll systems to be compatible with those under test or already in place in the rest of Europe, so that the motorist could 'use whatever tag or card he needs in his home country in those other Community countries which have an electronic tolling system'. There are tolls in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece.

Britain has no plans for real tests on the roads for almost two years. During this time industry will take part in a research programme on tolling, for which the Government has put aside pounds 3m. Trials, on a few thousand cars on the M4 or M25, are not expected before 1996. The Government wants organisations that wish to take part to respond by the end of next month. It hopes to select two to three systems by next year. The risk in this timetable is that other countries will bring in systems earlier and establish de facto standards with which the UK will have to comply. However, Mr MacGregor said British companies were sufficiently ahead of international competitors that this need not be the case.

Motorists had a right to know the technology was up to the job, he said: 'Will it operate quickly, accurately and dependably during the evening rush on a rough winter's night on the M25 or the M6 when perhaps 10,000 vehicles or more pass along one carriageway within an hour?' Nevertheless, he said experts who predicted that the technology would not be ready until 1998 were 'almost certainly going to be proved pessimistic'. But it would take until 1998 to introduce the required legal changes.

Estimates suggest it will cost between pounds 1bn and pounds 1.5bn to put motorway toll systems in place throughout the UK. Revenue from these could reach as much as pounds 700m a year. Mr MacGregor has said this money will not go straight to the Treasury but will initially be used to meet installation costs, then to improve the motorway network and information systems.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value

Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas