Drivers to benefit from free Severn Crossings from 2018: tolls to be abolished
Tolls on the
Severn Crossings are to be abolished at the end 2018, the government has
The bridges are
used by more than 25 million vehicles each year, saving significant travel time
and distance for commuters and drivers using the M4 motorway.
However, said the
government the tolls on both Severn Crossings were viewed as an economic and
symbolic barrier to Wales’ future prosperity.
Theresa May announced in the run-up to this year’s June general election that,
if re-elected, the government would axe the tolls.
It is estimated
that the announcement will boost the economy of South Wales by around £100
million a year and the average motorist could save over £1,400 per year.
Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said: “The decision to abolish the Severn tolls next year
sends a powerful message to businesses, commuters and tourists alike that the
UK government is committed to strengthening the Welsh economy.
“By ending tolls
for the 25 million annual journeys between two nations we will strengthen the
links between communities and help to transform the joint economic prospects of
South Wales and the South West of England.
“I want to ensure
that visitors and investors know what Wales has to offer socially, culturally
and economically. Most importantly, I want the world to know how accessible we
are to business. The decision we have taken is right for Wales’ future
prosperity and I am sure that it will be welcomed by industry and motorists
The bridges are
currently run by a consortium, the Severn River Crossing, but are due to come
under public ownership, when they will be run by Highways England from the end
of this year or in early 2018, when the current charging system will
automatically end. It currently costs £20 for an HGV to cross into Wales,
£13.40 for a van and £6.70 for a car.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Tens of millions of motorists a year will benefit
from the end of tolls on the Severn bridges, saving them money and cutting
journey times. People who use the crossing every day will save a minimum of
£115 a month.
crossing fee will also drive economic growth for businesses in Wales and the
South West and further strengthen the bond between our two great countries.”
Ian Gallagher, head of policy for South West and Wales Freight Transport
Association, welcomed the announcement saying: “It is excellent news for the growth of the Welsh
and South West Economies, a real shot in the arm for those businesses and
commuters who use the bridges on a daily basis.
“Removal of the
tolls altogether has been a long-term policy position for the Freight Transport
Association, with members on both side of the bridges incurring some of the
highest tolls charges in the UK, money better spent on upskilling, recruitment
and purchasing greener vehicles.
operators will be applauding this decision, a decision which will allow them to
reinvest more than £43 million annually collected at the booths - money which
can now be reinvested in job creation and improving fleets.”
The Road Haulage
Association responded to the government’s decision with “guarded optimism”.
Richard Burnett said: “Any measures that reduce a haulier’s operating costs are
welcome and those who regularly use the Severn Crossings will be saving at
least £20 per day. However, when the tolls end, it is inevitable that the
traffic on the crossings will increase considerably as those motorists and
operators who have seen the tolls as a deterrent begin to cross the river at
“Although the new
measures will leave money in the pockets of those using the Crossings, it will
be a false saving if the infrastructure is unable to cope with the increase in
hope that the traffic planners will have given this serious consideration. If
not, any savings made will be short lived as journey times increase as a result
“For the road
freight operator time is money and there is a real danger that a saving of £20
could well end up being wiped out as a result of delayed delivery times.”