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Momentum builds behind road user charging


ROAD USER charging studies on another swathe of UK roads were announced this week, at the same time as it emerged that a key Treasury report will recommend widespread UK road charging.

Nottingham, Derby, Leicester, Reading and Norfolk this week gained funding from the Department for Transport to develop road charging schemes.

They join Cambridgeshire, Durham, Greater Manchester, Shrewsbury, Tyne & Wear, West Midlands Conurbation and London in working up schemes that could be implemented with cash from the government's Transport Innovation Fund, to be awarded in 2008.

Awarding £7.5M in 'pump priming funding' this week transport secretary Douglas Alexander said work on local schemes could evolve into a national scheme.

'This work could lead to pilots that will help to inform discussion on a national road pricing scheme.' Highways Agency chief executive Archie Robinson also backed a national road pricing scheme this week.

Robinson said road pricing would be needed because traffic on trunk road network was forecast to rise as much as 69% by 2025.

Meanwhile, it emerged that the transport economics review being carried out by former British Airways chief executive Rod Eddington for the Treasury was expected to be published with its pre-Budget report in December. It is expected to back a national road user charging project that could raise an estimated £16bn a year for transport improvements.

NCE understands that the report will say that the economic value of major transport schemes must be recalculated 'to take more account of environmental issues' and to account for the impact of road charging.

Bodies including business groups the CBI and London First plus motorists' body the AA this week sought an 'urgent debate' about how cash raised from a national road pricing scheme would be used.

They want assurances that a national scheme is 'revenue neutral' for the motorist with cash reinvested in transport.

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