Chief executive of the Macquarie-owned Midland Expressway Limited, Tom Fanning, told NCE: 'The raising of our prices now comes at a time where other tolling operations such as the Dartford River Crossing and the Severn Bridge are raising their levels.'
While only the second toll increase in the road's life, the company is yet to turn a profit on the scheme and suffers from modest use - almost 10,000 fewer vehicles used the road in the August 2005 high season compared to the same period in 2004.The Freight Transport Association (FTA)'s Head of Policy for the Midlands, Wales & South West, Stephen Kelly, was disappointed by the decision. 'Ever since the M6 Toll opened, lorry traffic has been conspicuous by its absence. This dearth of commercial traffic can be directly attributed to the toll pricing structure.'Kelly said that the new pricing structure would force both cars and freight off the toll road and back onto the old, free M6.The £900 million, 45km road was completed four months early in September 2003. Since the official opening in January 2004, the road initially drew a loss, but then a modest operating profit for 2005 - its first full financial year - although this profit was offset by interest payments, leaving a further loss of around £23M.Road tolls form a key part of Sir Rod Eddington's report into road congestion. Eddington's analysis - by no means accepted by all - shows road charging generating incomes of up to £28 bn per year by 2025.On the M6 toll car fares will increase from £3.50 to £4 and HGV tolls from £7 to £8 on 1 January 2007.