Transport Minister Andrew Jones MP joins the Freight Transport Association (FTA) today to answer questions on the future of the Severn river crossings.
FTA is hosting a summit at Portcullis House, Westminster, on the handover of the two bridges back to Government by concessionaire Severn River Crossing PLC in 2018. Stakeholders and bridge users will join MPs to put forward their views on what administration should be adopted when the Government takes ownership.
In two years’ time, the current administrative arrangements will end for the two bridges carrying traffic across the Severn Estuary on the M48 and M4 in and out of Wales.
Ian Gallagher, FTA’s Head of Policy for Wales & the Southwest, said: “The actual date of the handover could be slightly earlier, with perhaps the end 2017 seeing the debt repaid. It is important therefore that we start this debate now to ensure the mechanism is in place to ensure a smooth transition of ownership.”
Today’s discussion is expected to highlight the need to reduce tolls more than the amount announced by the Chancellor in his last budget and to explore payment methods to reduce congestion at the booths.
Mr Gallagher added: “Scrapping the tolls altogether would be a fantastic outcome. However, that is unlikely so what should be explored is a reduction to a level that covers the operating and maintenance costs only, which is around £15m per annum. It should be noted that last year the bridges generated £98 million net so there is plenty of scope to considerably reduce charges to drivers.”
Notes for editors
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The Freight Transport Association can trace its origins back to 1889 and is recognised as the voice of the freight and logistics industry, representing the transport interests of companies moving goods by road, rail, sea and air. FTA members operate over 220,000 goods vehicles – half the UK fleet – consign over 90 per cent of the freight moved by rail and 70 per cent of sea and air freight.