Welcome to the UK's newest motorway, the first to open since the M60 was completed in 2000. The M6 Toll (or M6T, as we shall call it) is the brand-spanking-new northern bypass for the West Midlands conurbation, attempting to relieve the choked M6 through the urban area, which is not only under capacity, but also carried on a number of elevated viaducts which are now in a very sorry state.
This route was first proposed in 1980, and featured in the Roads to Prosperity report, but was shelved in early 1990s spending cuts. So how did it get built if it was shelved so long ago, and when many more recent road schemes were cancelled in 1996?
Easy. This is the first motorway to charge a direct toll to road users. Okay, that's not strictly true - the M4 and M48 both require you to pay to cross the Severn Bridge. But this is just a flat piece of tarmac with no particularly impressive engineering to it, and it too charges a toll.
It remains to be seen whether this fledgeling motorway will survive as a private enterprise. Midland Expressway Ltd., the consortium that won the contract to build and run it in 1991, is confident it will attract enough traffic - but independent surveys suggest that many people will continue to use the existing free road, especially considering it moves freely at night and between rush hours. It has also been criticised for its sneaky design, intended to trick people into using the new road and paying the toll: for example, at each end the M6 runs directly onto the new road, and you must turn off to reach the old one. If you're not looking for signs, you'll end up paying.
Enquiries about toll charges
Please direct all enquiries about the tolls to Midland Expressway Ltd. This is NOT the M6 Toll official website.
|Car & trailer||£8||£7|
The prices above are intended as a guide only, and were correct at 2 January 2007. Please check the M6 Toll official website for up-to-date prices.
Cars and motorbikes paying the toll at junctions T3, T4, T5 and T6 are reduced as not all of the M6 Toll can be accessed using these junctions. Motorists using these junctions can expect to pay about £1 less. Holders of electronic Tags receive a 5% discount on all tolls.
Owners of motor homes, caravans and other similar long vehicles are warned that the tolls are calculated by the height of the vehicle at the first axle and the number of axles. One visitor reports having to pay £10 when driving a motor home towing a small car, and many more towing caravans have been surprised by the price.
|Passes||Tamworth, Lichfield, Brownhills, Cannock|
With thanks to Paul Russell (Midland Expressway Ltd.), John Gauld and Nathaniel Porter for information in this section.