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FTA Concerned About Severn Crossings Future

FTA Concerned About Severn Crossings Future

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has voiced its concerns over the future of the Severn crossings, which will return to public ownership in 2018.

The group has asked Welsh Affairs Committee members to press the Government for clearer information about the future of the crossings.

Along with FTA member Owens Group, the FTA appeared at the Welsh Affairs Committee to provide evidence about the two bridges.

Severn River Crossing plc operates the bridges at present and the FTA said that the tolls for the crossings are up there with the UK’s most expensive and it is looking to clarify their future.

The FTA’s Head of Policy for Wales, Ian Gallagher, said that there is an uncertain future ahead for commuters and businesses who are reliant on the bridges on a daily basis.

He added that it is unacceptable for them to be so near to the transition date and still not knowing the ramifications for staff and users.

The FTA’s appearance before the committee comes after it provided written evidence in May, where the association called for either a reduced level of toll rates that just covered operating and maintenance costs or a complete scrappage of the tolls altogether.

The association reiterated this request when it appeared before the committee.

Mr Gallagher continued by saying that the Severn River Crossing plc recouped just short of £100 million in net toll revenue last year and that bridge maintenance costs are only about £15 million.

He said that this means there is a very realistic possibility of reducing the toll costs far below the 50% level that the chancellor announced in his last budget.

Owens Group is a company that uses the bridge frequently and the firm called for the committee to put pressure on the Department for Transport (DfT) to invent a fair and representative solution.

Owens Group’s Ian Jarman, who is also vice chair of the FTA’s Welsh Freight Council, said that it is crucial for the industry to garner support across parties on the issue as it will directly affect the association.

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