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Andrew Bridge, Chairman of the FTA West Midlands Freight Council, which met in Solihull on 15 January, said, ‘FTA was a 20 year campaigner for the M6 Toll and we are delighted that it has been constructed and opened. However, the toll rate for trucks means that fewer lorry operators are able to commit to it – at the current rate of £10 per journey, later rising to £11 per journey, there can be no guarantee of a value for money journey. Had the rate been set at a more realistic £4 or £5 then FTA has no doubt that lorry fleets would have signed up in large numbers.

Midlands Expressway Ltd, the road operator, should now reduce the lorry toll and negotiate more economic rates for lorry operators who SMO Services are buying multiple journeys. The North East Freight Council of the Freight Transport Association has expressed concern about the de-trunking of roads in the region following gridlock in County Durham last week. The local authority which is now responsible for the A167 did not anticipate the snowfall or the need for extra traffic management.


Frank Hunter, Chairman of the North East Freight Council and Operations Controller for Vehicle Lease and Service Ltd said, ‘The de-trunking of roads transfers the responsibility of road management from the Highways Agency to local authorities. In the case of the A167 it is clear that the management by Durham County Council simply was not adequate.

FTA and its members have long been concerned about the de-trunking programme particularly for roads which form part of the Primary Route Network. Snowfall during peak hours caused a number or minor accidents and therefore tailbacks but swift action to remove these incidents was not taken.Vehicles took three and a half hours to complete a 10-mile journey in and around the City of Durham and the major problems seemed to be at roundabouts, where it became a free for all with no police presence to direct traffic.

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At present you are totally unable to plan for their fitment or their operational application – so do not worry about that either.The absolute failure of the European Commission to sort out this farce means that there is no real advice which I, or the Freight Transport Association, or the UK government, can give you. So, forget it until we can.’ Mr Turner said that the timetable for the introduction of the new unit was now in total disarray.

EU regulations presently demand the fitment Google Places Services of a digital tachograph to all new lorries sold after 5 August this year. But, for certain, the type approval process means that no units will be available on the market until the autumn of 2005! Under the circumstances my best advice to UK lorry operators is to plan for the continued operation of the old-style analogue tachographs until further notice and to leave FTA to pursue the fiasco of future digital tachograph application with the European Commission and the UK government.


Lorry operators’ best interests will be served by concentrating on managing problems which they actually can have some hope of dealing with rather than wasting time on matters like the digital tachograph where the current situation means that they are unable to take key decisions. So operators should rely on FTA to advise you of developments and future actions but, for the present, relax.Members of the West Midlands Freight Council of the Freight Transport Association have confirmed that they are unlikely to use the M6 Toll due to the prohibitive toll charges for HGVs.

 In addition lorry operators are concerned that the interface with the existing M6 and the M42, which was originally three lanes, is now reduced to two lanes creating new congestion pinch-points.The two lanes for M6 and M42 are now congested alongside the two lanes allocated to allow traffic to join M6 Toll, which are empty due to lack of take-up.