Motorway tolls for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) will be lifted for the month of November on four roads to see if it reduces the number of trucks diverting to regional roads and through villages to avoid tolls, Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar has confirmed.
“I am concerned that large numbers of HGVs continue to use regional and local roads in order to avoid tolls, and are driving through towns, villages and rural areas. This has safety implications for other road users, residents and pedestrians. In addition by using local and regional roads instead of custom-built motorways, HGVs are adding to the wear and tear of the legacy roads network.
“For this reason I asked the National Roads Authority (NRA) to look at the feasibility of lifting tolls for heavy goods vehicles for one month on one or more motorways across the country, as a trial.
“Based on the feedback I have received I have decided to go ahead with the toll free month on a number of routes: the M1, M3, M6 and Limerick Tunnel. By trying a toll free month on these routes I want to see if HGV operators can be persuaded to use the motorways more. I think it is worthwhile to give us an opportunity to study traffic levels in detail and assess the implications and for HGV operators to evaluate the time and efficiency benefits of using these motorways.
“I have selected the routes for inclusion in the trial with the issue of regular avoidance of parts of the motorway network by heavy goods vehicles very much in mind. The M1 outside Drogheda is a good example, where large numbers of HGVs avoid the toll but have to pass through Slane in order to do so, which is hugely inconvenient to both the truck drivers and local residents.
“The M3 motorway from Dublin to Kells, the M6 from Ballinasloe to Galway and the Limerick tunnel are also good examples, with large numbers of trucks using the older roads nearby to avoid the tolls.
“I can’t say at this point that this trial will lead to any change in tolling policy. While toll rates vary in line with consumer prices, the base rates are built into the PPP financing arrangements that enabled the high quality motorway network to be built. Any change to the financial arrangements would clearly have significant implications and costs and would have to be carefully evaluated.”