The original Severn Bridge. Picture: Adrian Pingstone
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DRIVERS and businesses using the Severn crossings will have overheads cut from next January with the two Severn Bridge tolls cut before abolition at the end of 2018.

It is the first cut in tolls since the original bridge carrying the M4 was opened more than half a century ago, in 1966.

Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns announced that following the return of the Severn Crossings to public ownership on 8 January 2018, the tolls will be reduced for all drivers in line with the commitment made in Budget 2015.

The normal annual inflation increase (due 1 January 2018) will also not be applied.

Severn Bridge tolls from 8 Jan 2018:

  • Cars will pay £5.60 instead of £6.70.
  • Vans and small buses will pay £11.20 down from £13.40
  • Lorries and coaches will pay £16.70 instead of £20

The announcement comes hot on the heels of the 21 July confirmation that the UK Government will abolish the tolls altogether at the end of 2018, strengthening the economic links and prospects of South Wales and the South West of England.

The Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns announced the news to an audience of Welsh business representatives at the CBI Wales Regional Council meeting in Newport.

Alun Cairns said:

For so many years, the tolls on both Severn Crossings have been seen as an economic and symbolic barrier to Wales’ future prosperity. Our decision to reduce the tolls – before abolishing them altogether – will cut costs for businesses, for commuters and tourists alike – helping boost jobs and trade in Wales and across the South-West.

It was estimated in a Welsh Government paper five years ago that the abolition of tolls will boost the economy of South Wales by around £100 million a year while, based on a monthly tag charge of £117.92 over 12 months, regular motorists could save over £1,400 per year.

The Government also published its response to the consultation on proposals to reduce the Severn Crossing tolls launched earlier this year. In view of the responses received, the Government is confirming that it will not press ahead with halving the tolls but instead commit to abolishing the tolls entirely at the end of 2018.

Crossing the River Severn

The first Severn Bridge was opened in 1966, replacing a chain ferry that had operated since 1931, and providing a direct link for the new M4 motorway into South Wales.

With tolls to repay the cost of construction, it continually operated above capacity and in 1986 the then Government said that a second bridge would be built. Construction started in 1992 with completion in June 1996, 30 years after the first.

When the bridges come under public ownership, they will be run by Highways England.

Severn Bridge tolls cut
Beachley-Aust chain ferry in 1964 as the first Severn Bridge is built. Picture: Adrian Pingstone

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