M6 Toll revenue rises despite drop in traffic
The M6 Toll made more money despite a slight fall in the number of drivers using it, as price hikes helped to offset the drop in traffic.
Newly-published accounts showed revenue rose above £90 million last year with performance helped by the decision to increase charges on the toll road.
Vehicle usage of the toll fell by around 100,000 to 18.2m during 2018.
The toll's operator Midland Expressway blamed the drop in vehicles using the toll on a "reduction in long-distance car journeys".
Revenue from tolls was £90.9m and the overall figure £94.2, which included takings from the service station at Norton Canes.
The company once again made a loss, as in previous years because of the huge amount it is repaying in interest on the original motorway construction costs, but the total came down to £8.2m from £17.3m in 2017. The toll has yet to make a profit since it opened in 2003.
Midland Expressway, which was taken over by Australian investors IFM in 2017, also ploughed £6m into a major resurfacing and refurbishment programme on the toll road which was completed this year.
The latest figures show the 27-mile M6 Toll remains in good health despite its losses and continued questions over its future, including whether charges should reduced or scrapped altogether to help ease congestion and cut pollution in the region.
Its annual accounts for 2018, just filed at Companies House, showed the steady rise in revenue was continuing. The total was up from £89m in 2017 and £86m the year before.
Midland Expressway also said current plans for a new M6 and M54 link road did not meet the criteria for it to contribute towards the cost of the project. Under a debt re-financing agreement with the Government in 2006, the company was told it could end up paying up to £70m towards a new link road which joined the M6 Toll.
Looking ahead, chief executive Andrew Cliffe said: "It is expected the overall traffic corridor growth in the West Midlands will continue to be stimulated by the strong economic performance in the region, further boosted by the activities of the West Midlands Combined Authority, Transport for West Midlands, the West Midlands Mayor and associated developments relating to the UK Midlands Engine.
"The company continues to work with these bodies, and Highways England and the Department for Transport, to ensure the M6 Toll helps to deliver the maximum benefit for the region."
Mayor Andy Street said in August he would seek to convince the toll's operator to reduce prices after they went up again to £12 for lorries and £6.70 for cars. An Express & Star poll found 82 per cent of people wanted the toll road to be made free.