Nick Smith MP Labour MP for Blaenau Gwent
NICK Smith MP is calling for the Severn Bridge to switch to a free flow tolling system to make South East Wales appealing for business.
The Blaenau Gwent MP is hoping the Government will look to follow in the footsteps of much of continental Europe and Ireland’s M50 in installing electronic pay systems rather than the current gated tolling booths.
The free flow system allows drivers to pay electronically and drive through the system at normal speed, eliminating waiting times at the crossing and bringing a potential end to tailbacks come rush hour.
Mr Smith is currently writing to the Minister of State for Transport to arrange a meeting for himself and interested members in South East Wales after being informed the Government are currently trialling such a system on the Dartford-Thurrock river crossing.
He said: “Anyone who’s tried to get back into Wales come peak time knows the current system can only cope up to a point.
“The moment that queue stretches back too far, the bottleneck effect means any gains for the haulage companies and businesses using TAG are completely lost.
“This isn’t just about convenience for the everyday motorist, though that would be a boost too. It’s about making our side of the bridge as accessible and appealing as possible. Every long wait at a barrier is another road block to bringing business and money to Wales.”
The current concession on the Severn Bridge is due to end in 2018, with no decisions having been made so far on the future management of tolling arrangements.
Mr Smith has also asked the Minister for any interim reports on the Dartford-Thurrock crossing to see if the system can be a success and therefore can be transferred elsewhere.
This includes information on the costs of the scheme against the benefits, and how much of an impact it has made on the lives of motorists.
Mr Smith said: “Constituents have written to me about this issue, and I understand the Government would have to make sure it provided value for money with a new system.
“But if it is viable, I would campaign for any improvement that would give us another bullet point to take to companies -; companies that provide economic growth and job boosts.”