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Severn toll rises will hit smaller operators

  • 09 December 2013
  • By Ashleigh Wight

Welsh operators have slammed the planned increase in the Severn Crossing tolls, with the Freight Transport Association (FTA) saying the new charges will hit smaller hauliers the hardest.

Ian Gallagher, the FTA’s head of policy for Wales and the South West, said the tolling only favours the private company operating the bridges, and suggested that removing the tolls when they revert back into public ownership in 2018 would help the South Wales economy.

“The whole tolling infrastructure is fundamentally flawed,” Gallagher told Commercialmotor.com. “[The increase] is going to have a massive impact on SMEs.”

The cost of crossing the River Severn has more than doubled for operators since 1992. It is set to rise to £19.20 for LGVs on 1 January, up from £18.60, while the toll for vans weighing up to 3.5 tonnes will also increase from £12.40 to £12.80.

Llanelli-based Owens Road Services has estimated that the increase will cost the company an additional £7,000 per year, but does not want to pass the cost onto its customers.

“It may only be an extra 60p per vehicle, but it does add up when you’re using it every day,” said authorised testing facility manager Ian Jarman. “We have to use it. It’s a charge on doing business.”

He said that when the Severn Bridges Act came into force, which amends the toll prices each year in accordance with the Retail Price Index, operators did not foresee the high inflation rises.

Bridgend-based John Raymond Transport, which uses the crossing many times a day, said the increase will have a “phenomenal impact” .

“If the money was just used to maintain the crossings, [the toll] would be much lower,” said fleet manager Geraint Davies.

Gallagher said FTA members believe the toll should be lower and set at the crossing’s maintenance level, which he estimated at around £12m-£15m per year.

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Article source: http://www.commercialmotor.com:80/latest-news/severn-toll-rises-will-hit-smaller-operators