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M6 Toll revenue hits £89m as 18.3m vehicles use motorway

By Simon Penfold | Transport | Published:

The new owners of the M6 Toll has seen revenue rising to £89 million on the back of price hikes and record traffic numbers.

Newly released figures show that traffic on the UK’s only pay-as-you-go motorway grew by 4.5 per cent in 2017, to 18.3 million vehicles– thought to be an all- time high beating the motorway's previous record set in 2006.

On average, it handled 50,030 vehicles a day, up from 47,777 in 2016, largely due to increasing commercial traffic.

In the first year after the toll road operator, Midland Expressway Limited (MEL) was taken over by Australian group IFM Investors it also launched a £6.2 million spending programme that saw the start of major resurfacing work and refurbishments of structures alone the 27-mile route of the M6 Toll road.

Further work is due to take place this year.

In its financial report for 2017, just filed at Companies House, Midland Expressway said its income from tolls rose to £86 million, up from £80 million the year before. Total income rose to £89m due to increased traffic, the impact of toll price increases and increases in takings at the service station at Norton Canes.

Earnings before tax, interest and exceptional items – referred to as EBITDA – to more than £6m to £79.5m, despite £2.8m of costs from the takeover by IFM.

But, as in previous years, the company made a loss – £17.4m, up from £15.3m the year before – because of the huge amount it is repaying in interest on the original motorway construction costs. This rose to £686m last year.

The toll road has yet to make a profit since it opened in 2003 but, following the takeover in 2016, there was a vote of confidence from a string investors, including the UK’s Pension Protection Fund, who jointly backed a £500m investment in the M6 Toll.

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In a strategic report, as part of the accounts, the directors said: "The company's immediate parent company, Midland Motorways Group, was succesfully refinanced with an affordable and stable financing platform for the period up to the end of the concession."

MEL has a 53-year concession on running the toll road, up until 2054.

Looking ahead, the directors said: "It is expected that overall traffic corridor growth in the West Midlands will continue to be stimulated by the strong economic performance in the region."

In addition, they said discussions were continuing with Highways England over possible link road options between the M54 and the M6 Toll.

Meanwhile MEL announced fresh price hikes this summer, of up to 50p for cars and heavy goods vehicles, following the 40p hike for cars last August.

Simon Penfold

By Simon Penfold
Business Editor - @SPenfold_star

Business Editor based at the Express & Star's head office in Wolverhampton, looking for stories big & small.

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