Trial could lead to £1.30-a-mile charges
Hundreds of drivers are being recruited to take part in government-funded road-pricing trials that could result in charges of up to £1.30 a mile on the most congested roads.
The test runs will start early next year in four locations and will involve fitting a satellite-tracking device to the vehicles of volunteers. An on-board unit will automatically deduct payments from a shadow account set up in the driver’s name.
Paul Clark, the Transport Minister, confirmed yesterday that the trials would proceed despite previous statements from the Government suggesting that it had abandoned the idea of a national road-pricing scheme. In 2004 a feasibility study considered a range of possible prices, up to £1.30 a mile. It said that the highest rate “would be paid by only 0.5 per cent of traffic”.
The on-board unit could be used to collect all road charges, such as congestion charges in London and Manchester and tolls for crossing bridges and using new lanes on motorways.
In the longer term the technology could be used to introduce pricing on all roads, with the price varying according to the time of day, direction of travel and the level of congestion.
Drivers would use the internet to check all their payments on a single bill. They would choose whether the bill showed where they had travelled or simply the amounts they had paid.