Secretary of State for Transport to Launch Phased Opening of M6toll Road

On Tuesday December 9th, the Secretary of State for Transport, Alistair Darling, is scheduled to be guest of honour at the official ceremony to mark the first phase of opening for Britain's first tolled motorway - the M6toll.

The first vehicles will join the M6toll from local side roads as part of a phased opening process agreed between Midland Expressway Limited (MEL), the Highways Agency and Central Motorway Police Group. The opening process has been designed to limit traffic at opening, with safety the major priority.

Tom Fanning, Managing Director of Midland Expressway, the company responsible for the design, construction and operation of the M6 Toll Road, commented: "We're pleased to be able to deliver an early Christmas present to motorists and business of reduced stress and shorter journeys. There will now be a free-flowing alternative to the M6 in the busy pre-Christmas period.

"The phased process begins today and we expect the road to be fully open within five days. For most of this period the road is not accessible from the M6 and remains essentially a local road, so traffic numbers will be small. With safety a priority, this is the way we've planned it. The opening process deliberately restricts traffic numbers in the first few days as it's the safest way of introducing motorists to a completely new high-speed route.

"Opening a road is very complicated and I wouldn't have put money on opening this far ahead of schedule even last week, but all parties involved in the project have shown 100% commitment to delivering the M6 Toll, and the benefits it brings to motorists, more than a month early."

Stephen Allen, Chief Executive Officer, Macquarie Infrastructure Group, the main shareholder in Midland Expressway commented: "The M6 Toll has been delivered ahead of time and on budget. We look forward to providing a free-flowing alternative to the M6, delivering time savings to motorists and businesses over the next 50 years."

The road will open in the following phases:

Tuesday December 9th - 10.00am - intermediate junctions open from 10am
Junctions will open in the following order for traffic heading south.

T7 entry (Churchbridge - A5/A34/A460)
T6 exit & entry (Burntwood - A5 link)
T5 exit (Shenstone to A5148 (A38))
T4 exit & entry (Weeford Junction - A5/A38)
T3 exit & entry (Langley Mill South/North - A38)
T2 exit (Belfry - A446/A4091)
M42 Jn.8 merge and diverge (M42 south with M6 Toll south)
Southbound merge M6/M6 Toll (coordinated rolling block from M6 Jn.4)

Later that morning, traffic heading north will also be able to access the road:

Rolling block travelling north from Kingsbury Road:

T1 entry (Kingsbury Road A4097)
T3 exit & entry (Langley Mill South- A38)
T4 exit & entry (Weeford Junction - A5/A38)
T5 entry (Shenstone A5127)
T6 exit (Burntwood - A5 link)
T7 exit (Churchbridge A5/A34/A460)
T8 exit (Middle Hill - A460)
M6 Jn.11A merge (M6 Toll/M6)

PHASE 2
Northbound M42 opens from 10am

Traffic travelling north on the M42 will be able to access the M6toll from Jn.8

Northbound M6 opens overnight

Traffic travelling north on the M6 will be able to access the M6toll from Jn.4

PHASE 3
Southbound M6 opens overnight

Traffic travelling south on the M6 will be able to access the M6toll from Jn.11A
Peak hour traffic will be able to avoid the M6 by using the M6toll
Benefits of the M6toll
In May, MEL announced a standard charge for car drivers of just £2 to use the 27 mile motorway. This includes a £1 discount which is available for the first 10 million vehicles on the road. Business users will be able to reclaim VAT on the road tolls, reducing the HGV charge to just £8.50 and the van price to £4.25.

Projected benefits of the M6toll include:

The M6toll could reduce journey times through the West Midlands by up to 45 minutes (source: Trafficmaster)
Regional investment agency InStaffs recently estimated the road has created up to 5,000 jobs and £270 million of investment in the West Midlands
New developments attributed to the proximity of the M6toll include the £150m Kingwood Lakeside in Cannock; the £100m Automotive Components Park in Wednesbury; and the £15m service area at Norton Canes
MEL will employ up to 150 people and a further 200 people will be employed at the motorway service station at Norton Canes
Positive Feedback From Leading Fleet Operators
Mr Fanning announced that MEL had had positive discussions with the UK's leading hauliers. "We have recently begun face to face discussions with the top 100 hauliers that currently use the M6 and A5. These discussions have been very positive, with hundreds of tags already sold, and several of the top ten hauliers already signed up. As expected many hauliers wanted to wait for the road to open before committing to tags and we expect many to trial the road in the weeks ahead."

A major marketing campaign including radio advertisements and a giant hoarding on the Fort Dunlop site has been launched to prepare motorists for the launch of the M6toll. Updates on the opening will be available via the website at www.m6toll.co.uk and the information line on 0870 850 6262.

Please note that a map showing the countdown to opening is available.

Photography of the launch will be available for download at www.vismedia.co.uk

M6toll Road Media Team:
Nigel Pipkin 0121 605 1111 nigel@warmangroup.com
Lorna Bishop 0121 605 1111 lorna@warmangroup.com
NOTE: FOR SAFETY AND SECURITY REASONS MEDIA ATTENDING THE OPENING MUST ARRIVE AT WEEFORD OPERATIONS CENTRE NO LATER THAN THE FOLLOWING TIMES TO ENSURE ATTENDANCE:

BROADCAST CREWS: 8:00AM

PRESS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS: 9:00AM

Notes to editors

Schedule
Please note that Tom Fanning, MD of Midland Expressway Ltd will not be available for interview until 06:00am on the day of opening.

On opening day next week Broadcast crews should arrive at Weeford Operations Centre for a run through of opportunities and a safety briefing from 06:00 am onwards.

Provisions have been made for OB vehicles and satellite vans - please contact the M6toll media team to discuss these arrangements and to ensure swift passage through security.

Print journalists and photographers should arrive at Weeford Operations Centre for a safety briefing and run through of opportunities at 0900am on the day of opening. Please let us know if you are planning on attending so we can ensure swift passage through security.

Vehicles will be available to take media to the Operations Centre and will be departing from Birmingham International at 8.45am precisely. To secure a place on the vehicles, please contact one of the M6toll media team. Media travelling from London by train will need to join the 07:15 from London Euston which gets into Birmingham International at 08.37.

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