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Now drivers face C-charge for travel on M25


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Now drivers face C-charge for travel on M25


Last updated at 10:07am on 20th October 2006


Drivers on the M25 face congestion charging under a new plan to make motorists pay for peak-time travel on Britain's motorways.

Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander has asked the Highways-Agency to identify a suitable-section of the 4,800-mile motorway network for the trial.

The move came as Tory leader David Cameron made his most scathing criticism yet of Ken Livingstone's congestion charge.

London's orbital motorway is seen as the prime candidate for the pilot scheme as it has by far the worst congestion and traffic is continuing to grow rapidly. The trial would be a forerunner of a national pricing scheme covering all roads, which ministers have said they want to introduce from 2015.

The three-lane M25 is having an extra lane added and one option would be to charge for using the new lane during rush hour.

A Department for Transport study has concluded that congestion on motorways and A-roads would fall by 34 per cent if charges of up to £1.34 a mile were introduced.

The Government underlined its determination to use charging yesterday by announcing a 50 per cent increase in the toll for using the M25 Dartford river crossing. From early 2008, car prices will increase from £1 to £1.50.

Drivers who install an electronic tag and set up a prepaid account will pay only £1. The DfT wants drivers to get used to having tags in their cars because similar technology could be used for national road charging.

A departmental source said today: "We need to test road pricing on motorways as well as in urban areas. If we are serious about addressing congestion, we cannot ignore motorways where many of the worst problems are found."

Mr Cameron revealed that he had received a leaflet telling him his home in Notting Hill would be included in the extended zone for the C-charge.

Although he has been sympathetic to road pricing, the Conservative leader said that there were "greener ways" of tackling traffic in London and rounded on Mr Livingstone for wasting money and not doing enough to boost public transport.

London Tories are still determined to oppose the C-charge and Mr Cameron told ITV1's Frost Tonight programme that it would be up to the party's mayoral candidate to set policy on the issue.

But he said: "There's a huge amount of waste because so much money has gone into paying for the system. There are greener ways of doing things. I don't think the technology or the system has been particularly effective as a user.

"I think that too much of the money has gone into the system rather than actually going back into public transport. So there are lots of criticisms that can be made."

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