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M6 Toll

M6 Toll motorway shield

M6 Toll motorway
Route information
Part of E05
Length: 27 mi (43 km)
Existed: 2002 – present
Major junctions
From: Coleshill
M6 motorway

M42 motorway
To: Cheslyn Hay, Great Saredon
Cannock, Brownhills, Lichfield, Shenstone, Tamworth, Burntwood
Road network

The M6 Toll, also called the Birmingham North Relief Road (BNRR) and marketed as the M6toll, connects M6 Junction 3a at the Coleshill Interchange to M6 Junction 11A at Wolverhampton with 27 miles (43 km) of six-lane motorway. The weekday cash cost is £5.50 for a car and £11.00 for an HGV.[1] The M6 Toll is part of the (unsigned in the UK) E-road E05 and is subject to the same regulations and policing as other motorways in the UK. The M6 Toll has one service station along its 27-mile stretch, Norton Canes services. The M6 Toll is a pay as you go motorway with two toll plazas, Great Wyrley Toll Plaza for northbound and Weeford Toll Plaza for southbound. The northbound toll plaza is situated between junctions T6 and T7 of the toll and the southbound toll is between junctions T4 and T3.


  • History 1
    • Planning and construction 1.1
    • First year of operation 1.2
    • Traffic levels 1.3
    • Historical toll rates 1.4
    • M6 Expressway 1.5
  • Tolls 2
    • Prices (from March 2012) 2.1
    • Collection 2.2
  • Midland Expressway Ltd 3
  • Criticisms 4
    • Design 4.1
    • Misleading signage 4.2
    • Protest during planning and construction 4.3
  • Features 5
  • Junctions 6
  • Statutory Instruments 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


Planning and construction

Proposals for a new publicly funded motorway were circulated in 1980.[2] It was originally called the Birmingham North Relief Road (BNRR) and designed to alleviate the increasing congestion on the M6 through Birmingham and the Black Country in England. This was the busiest section of the M6, carrying up to 180,000 vehicles per day when it was designed to carry only 72,000.[3]

Five alternative routes were put for consultation in 1980 and a preferred route was published in 1986. In 1989 there was a public inquiry relating to a publicly funded motorway.[2]

In 1989 it was announced that it would be built privately and a competition took place which was won by Midland Expressway Ltd in 1991.[2] The contract was for a 53-year concession to build and operate the road as an early form of public private partnership with the operator paying for the construction and recouping its costs by setting and collecting tolls, allowing for a 3-year construction period followed by 50 years of operation. At the end of this period the infrastructure would be returned to the Government. Toll rates are set at the discretion of the operator at six-monthly intervals and there is no cap on the rates charged.[4]

There was a second public inquiry from relating to the new scheme in 1994–1995 and a go-ahead in 1997. A legal challenge was made by the 'Alliance against BNRR' which was cleared in 1998.[2]

MEL contracted out the construction of the road to a consortium of major contractors Carillion, Alfred McAlpine, Balfour Beatty and AMEC (together known as CAMBBA).[2]

Site clearance started in 2000 and the road opened in December 2003.[2] When creating the surface of the road some 2.5 million Mills & Boon novels were pulped and mixed into the tarmac to help the surface absorbency.[5]

Construction work began in the summer of 2002.

In August 2003 freight operators indicated that they planned to keep their vehicles on the heavily congested M6 through Birmingham rather than send them on the new motorway due to high fees. The AA Motoring Trust said it welcomed the decision to make lorries pay a premium rate explaining that "Car drivers find lorries intimidating and they frequently hold up traffic on motorways when overtaking each other.[6]

The road was partially opened on 9 December 2003 for traffic entering from local junctions, then fully opened on 14 December 2003.[7]

First year of operation

On 10 January 2004, five weeks after opening, a short section of the road near Sutton Coldfield was reduced to one lane to allow for repairs to an uneven surface.[8] On 19 January work also began on a separate stretch near Langley Mill, to deal with heavy rainwater failing to drain away.

On 23 July 2004 prices for HGVs were reduced from £10 to £6 to encourage them to use the route "for a trial period".[9]

In August 2004 a lower price was available during off-peak hours (23:00 – 06:00) and for the Langley Mill for a northbound exit or a southbound entry.

Traffic levels

In December 2004, one year after opening, Friends of the Earth issued a press release expressing concern that faced with lower than expected traffic numbers, Midland Expressway were trying to attract new traffic-generating developments to greenbelt and greenfield sites in the M6 Toll Corridor.[10] and in April 2005 the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors reported that there was strong interest in the commercial property market place around the M6 Toll "zone of influence".[11]

In May 2005 the Macquarie Infrastructure Group reported that traffic figures were "disappointing".[12] In August 2005 the Highways Agency confirmed in its own 'one year' study showing that usage had settled at around 50,000 vehicle per day (lower than the predicted 74,000) but that traffic volumes on the M6 had reduced slightly.[13]

From 2008, traffic levels started to fall. Traffic in the first quarter of 2009 was 39,000 vehicles-per-day (Monday-Friday figures),[14] but recovered to reach 54,000 in the second quarter of 2015.[15]

Historical toll rates

Day time cash prices for various vehicle classes since opening:

Date introduced Class 1 (e.g. Motorbike) Class 2 (e.g. Car) Class 3 (e.g. Car with trailer) Class 4 (e.g. Van) Class 5 (e.g. HGV)
9 December 2003[16] £1.00 £2.00 £5.00 £5.00 £10.00
23 July 2004[9] £1.00 £2.00 £5.00 £5.00 £6.00
16 August 2004[9] £2.00 £3.00 £6.00 £6.00 £6.00
14 June 2005[17] £2.50 £3.50 £7.00 £7.00 £7.00
1 January 2008[18][19] £2.50 £4.50 £8.00 £9.00 £9.00
1 January 2009[20] £2.70 £4.70 £8.40 £9.40 £9.40
1 March 2010[21] £2.70 £5.00 £9.00 £10.00 £10.00
1 March 2011[22] £3.00 £5.30 £9.60 £10.60 £10.60
1 March 2012[23] £3.00 £5.50 £10.00 £11.00 £11.00

There is a 5% discount for using a tag. Leasing of one tag currently costs £1.00/month. In addition, a monthly administrative fee of £2.00 is charged if the user wishes to receive a postal statement.[24]

Exit/entry at some of the intermediate junctions away from the main toll booths entails a reduced toll, typically £1 less than the full fee.

M6 Expressway

There was a proposal to build a new toll motorway, called the M6 Expressway running from the end of the M6 Toll up to as far as Knutsford, where much of the traffic leaves the M6 for Manchester. It was announced on 20 July 2006 that this proposal had been abandoned due to excessive costs and anticipated construction problems.[25]


Prices (from March 2012)

Vehicle class Mon–Fri (06:00–23:00) Sat–Sun (06:00–23:00) Night (23:00–06:00)
Class 1 (e.g. motorbike) £3.00 £2.80 £1.80
Class 2 (e.g. car) £5.50 £4.80 £3.80
Class 3 (e.g. car with trailer) £10.00 £8.60 £7.60
Class 4, 5 and 6 (e.g. van/coach, HGV) £11.00 £9.60 £8.60


Tolls can be paid by one of four means: automated coin payments, payment at a staffed toll booth, automated credit/debit card payments or in advance via an M6 Toll tag. Not all methods are available at all toll gates; each of the toll gates features an electronic sign showing the payment methods available at the time.

Vehicles are classified electronically at the toll booths according to their number of wheels, number of axles and height at first axle. Thus vehicles with trailers are charged extra and some large models of 4x4 are classified as vans.

Failure to pay the toll for using the motorway is a civil offence; anyone attempting to do so will be issued with an unpaid toll notice and required to send payment. If it is not paid within two days a £10 administration charge is added, plus further costs will be added if the toll is still unpaid after 14 days.

An M6 Toll tag is an electronic toll collection device attached to a vehicle's windscreen, which records the vehicle's passage through toll plazas on the M6 Toll.

Each tag can only be used with the registered number plate and has a unique account. All accounts on the M6 Toll are pre-paid, and must contain a positive balance, sufficient to cover the cost of the vehicle's toll, in order for the vehicle to be allowed through the toll gate. If the balance is sufficient, the tag will beep once and the barrier at the toll gate will automatically raise. If the balance is low (fewer than three journeys remaining), the tag will beep twice. If the balance of the account cannot cover the cost of the toll, the barrier will remain closed and an alternative method of payment must be used. Balances can be topped up automatically once a month using Direct Debit or credit card, or by cheque.

The tags contain a microchip which uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology. Physically, the tag resembles a DART-Tag, as used to pay the tolls on the Dartford Crossing. However, the two systems do not interoperate.

Midland Expressway Ltd

The contract to build and operate the M6 Toll was won by Midland Expressway Ltd (MEL) in 1991.[2] In 2005 MEL reported an operating profit of around £16 million. Total revenue was £45 million, with staff and other operating costs amounting to £11.4 million and depreciation of £17.4 million. Taking into account net interest costs of around £43 million, that leaves an overall loss of £26.5 million in 2005 – their first full financial year.[27]

As of June 2005, MEL was 100% owned by Macquarie Infrastructure Group (MIG) of Australia, which operated several tolled roads in Australia and North America. Long term debt was £819 million as of 30 June 2005. Disappointing traffic figures for 2005 led to a price rise in June, and MIG Chief Executive Steve Allen commented in the Australian newspaper The Age, "What we need is to slow down the M6".[28]

Business leaders in Staffordshire, now effectively closer to London, welcomed the opening of the road, saying that it would make it easier to do business there.[29]

In June 2006 the decision to not increase tolls was put down to disappointing traffic levels and led to a reduction in value for the owner.[30]

In 2010 MIG was split into two, and the M6 Toll is now managed by Macquarie Atlas Roads.[31]



The M6 Toll lacks a proper link with the M54, which joins the M6 only 1.5 miles/2.5 km south of the northern end of the M6 Toll. Plans are afoot to link them eventually[32][33] but for the time being traffic between the two has to use either the slow and often congested A460 to M54 J1, or go from M54 J2 via the A449 and A5 to M6 J12 – an extra 4 miles/7 km. It is unclear why access to/from the M54, which provides a link to the West Midlands from not only Shropshire but much of Wales as well, was not considered a priority when the toll road was being built; indeed, the M6 Toll did not appear on the M54's junction signs (at J2) until early 2009, more than 5 years after the road was opened.

The M6 Toll provides no relief for traffic heading to the North West from the M5 (or vice versa), for which the "old" M6 is the only option. Drivers of this route must be especially careful to avoid the "default" M6 Toll lanes, as the toll road will not only cost them the toll but will also take them severely off course.

Misleading signage

Considerable disquiet was expressed soon after the opening of the M6 Toll at signage which directed drivers making local journeys onto the toll road replaced older signs. As well as incurring toll charges, the new routes were longer than the original routes leading to accusations that this was just a ploy to increase traffic on the M6 Toll.[34] Similar accusations have been made about traffic signs on the M6 that announce "M6 TOLL CLEAR", even when the M6 is also clear, that are under the control of Midland Expressway Ltd.[35] These issues are mentioned on the M6 Toll FAQ pages, with explanations which emphasise that all drivers using the road are still liable to pay the toll.[36]

Protest during planning and construction

Environmental campaigners opposed the road, from its inception. While the road was being built some advocates of direct action dug tunnels in the path of the road in order to frustrate and delay the work.

Friends of the Earth claimed that the road would not relieve much traffic from the West Midlands conurbation as most users using the M6 in that area began or ended their journeys within the conurbation and so the M6 Toll would offer no advantage to them. Their campaign co-ordinator for the West Midlands, Chris Crean, said that although the £900 million cost of the road had been borne by private companies, the money should have been spent on public transport.[29]


Toll plaza for northbound traffic at Great Wyrley

The M6 Toll has few junctions, and some have limited access to discourage local traffic. Like modern toll roads in continental Europe, the M6 Toll still uses toll plazas.

The construction of the motorway threatened the restoration of the Lichfield Canal, which cut across the motorway's route. The Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust campaigned and raised funds to build an aqueduct to carry the canal over the motorway.[37] The aqueduct has been finished but the canal has yet to reach it, giving it an odd appearance, known to some local residents as 'The Climbing Lemming Bridge'.

The motorway's only service station is situated at Norton Canes, between junctions T6 and T7.


The towns, cities and roads listed are those given on road signs on the motorway as the junction is approached.

M6 Toll motorway
No. Coordinates Northbound Tolls Southbound Tolls
Southern end Merge between M42 northbound and M6 J3a northbound None Split between southbound M42 and a merge with M6 J3a southbound None
M6 Merge Merge from M6 J4a southbound None None
T1 Split for M42 northbound, entry from A4097 (M42 J9, A446) None Merge with M42 southbound None
T2 No entry or exit None A446 (M42 north) – Coleshill None
T3 Langley Mill A38Sutton Coldfield (exit and entry) Exit A38Birmingham (N)/Sutton Coldfield (exit and entry) Entry
Weeford Park Toll Plaza (S)
T4 Weeford Junction A38/A5Burton/Lichfield/Tamworth (exit and entry) Exit A5 (M42 north) – Tamworth (exit and entry) Exit
T5 Wall Entry from A5127 (A5/A5148) None A5148 (A38) – Lichfield/Burton Exit
T6 Brownhills A5195Brownhills/Burntwood (exit and entry) Exit A5195Brownhills/Burntwood (exit and entry) Exit
Norton Canes services
Great Wyrley Toll Plaza
T7 Churchbridge A34/A460Walsall/Cannock/Rugeley None Entry None
T8 Wedges Mills A460 (M6 south) – Wolverhampton None Entry None
Northern end Merge with M6 J11a northbound None Begins from M6 J11a southbound None

Statutory Instruments

Each motorway in England requires that a legal document called a Statutory Instrument be published, detailing the route of the road, before it can be built. The dates given on these Statutory Instruments relate to when the document was published, and not when the road was built. Provided below is a list (possibly incomplete) of the Statutory Instruments relating to the M6 Toll.

  • Statutory Instrument 1998 No. 121: The Birmingham Northern Relief Road and Connecting Roads Scheme 1998 S.I. 1998/121
  • Statutory Instrument 1998 No. 124: The Birmingham Northern Relief Road Toll Order 1998 S.I. 1998/124
  • Statutory Instrument 2003 No. 2186: The M6 Toll (Collection of Tolls) Regulations 2003 S.I. 2003/2186
  • Statutory Instrument 2003 No. 2187: The M6 Toll Wide Load Routes (Speed Limit) Regulations 2003 S.I. 2003/2187
  • Statutory Instrument 2003 No. 2188: The M6 Toll (Speed Limit) Regulations 2003 S.I. 2003/2188

See also


  1. ^ "M6toll pricing guide". M6toll. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "M6 Toll – Overview". M6 Toll. Archived from the original on 11 February 2008. Retrieved 24 January 2008. 
  3. ^ "M6 Toll - four years on".  
  4. ^ nsrd/pdvn/lds05/text/50614w04.htm "Lords Hansard text" . 14 June 2005. Retrieved 30 September 2007. 
  5. ^ "M6 Toll built with pulped fiction".  
  6. ^ Ben Webster (3 August 2003). "drivers to bypass toll road".  
  7. ^ "'"M6 Toll figures 'encouraging.  
  8. ^ "M6 Toll branded big flop". icBirmingham. 6 February 2004. Retrieved 24 January 2008. 
  9. ^ a b c "The M6 Toll has reached its 10 millionth customer". M6 Toll. 13 August 2008. Retrieved 23 January 2008. 
  10. ^ "First Anniversary of M6 Toll Opening". Friends of the Earth. 9 December 2004. Archived from the original on 14 May 2005. Retrieved 24 January 2008. 
  11. ^ John de Kanter (1 May 2005). "The M6 Toll: 12 Months On". Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors. Archived from the original on 4 May 2008. Retrieved 24 January 2008. 
  12. ^ "MIG M6 April Traffic Disappointing – GSJBW". new ratings. 23 May 2005. Retrieved 24 January 2008. 
  13. ^ "one year after study". Highways Agency. 11 August 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-11-18. Retrieved 24 January 2008. 
  14. ^ "M6 Toll Q1 2009 Traffic Figures". 
  15. ^ "M6 Toll Q2 2015 Traffic Figures". 
  16. ^ "The M6 toll road". BBC Birmingham. Retrieved 24 January 2008. 
  17. ^ "Pricing table – valid from 14 June 2005" (PDF). M6 Toll. Retrieved 23 January 2008. 
  18. ^ "Toll Price Rise 1-1-08" (PDF). M6 Toll. Retrieved 24 January 2008. 
  19. ^ M6 Toll prices pdf chart "M6toll pricing pdf chart" (PDF). Retrieved 2 January 2008. 
  20. ^ "Pricing table – Prices valid from 1st January 2009" (PDF). M6 Toll. Retrieved 1 March 2010. 
  21. ^ "Pricing table – Prices valid from 1st March 2010" (PDF). M6 Toll. Retrieved 1 March 2011. 
  22. ^ "Toll Rates for M6 Toll Effective (from 6.00 am) 1 March 2011" (PDF). M6 Toll. Retrieved 18 May 2012. 
  23. ^ "Toll Rates for M6 Toll Effective (from 6.00 am) 1 March 2012" (PDF). M6 Toll. Retrieved 18 May 2012. 
  24. ^ "M6 Toll – Overview – Tags". M6 Toll. 18 February 2009. Retrieved 18 February 2009. 
  25. ^ "Decision on M6 upgrade announced". 20 July 2006. Archived from the original on 13 March 2007. Retrieved 30 September 2007. 
  26. ^ "M6toll – Stress Free Motoring – Pricing Overview". Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  27. ^ "M6Toll traffic returning after toll increase last summer". 13 February 2006. Retrieved 30 September 2007. 
  28. ^ "Morgan takes the chair at BioDiem". The Age (Melbourne). 26 August 2005. Retrieved 30 September 2007. 
  29. ^ a b "Head to head: M6 toll road". BBC News. 9 December 2003. Retrieved 30 September 2007. 
  30. ^ "MIG's toll decision leads to downgrade". The Sydney Morning Herald. 23 May 2006. Retrieved 30 September 2007. 
  31. ^ MQA Macquarie Atlas Roads: Asset portfolio. Retrieved 2012-07-24.
  32. ^ "M54 link to M6 Toll". 23 January 2012. Retrieved 24 July 2012. 
  33. ^ "M54 to M6 / M6 (Toll) Link Road". Highways Agency. Retrieved 24 July 2012. 
  34. ^ "Association of British Drivers". Retrieved 20 July 2010. 
  35. ^ "BBC Birmingham". Retrieved 20 July 2010. 
  36. ^ "M6 Toll FAQ". Retrieved 14 July 2012. 
  37. ^ "Stress Free Motoring – Not found". M6toll. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 

External links

  • Official site
  • M6 Toll Ltd – tag details
  • Macquarie Infrastructure Group
  • CBRD Motorway Database – M6 Toll
  • Multitoll Solutions SAS: Toll System provider on the M6 Toll
  • Traffic figures on National Alliance Against Tolls site
  • BBC News report on the road's early opening
  • Some detail and photographs of the route and opening day
  • The Motorway Archive – M6 Toll
  • NoTolls
  • Pathetic Motorways: A446(M)
  • M6 Toll
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