THERE ARE concerns that the removal of toll charges on the M4 Severn Crossings on 17 December could result in a loss of rail freight traffic to road. The toll, for westbound vehicles only, was £16.70 per Heavy Goods Vehicle last year. It had been reduced from £20 in January 2018, when VAT ceased to be levied because the motorway bridges had passed from private to public ownership.
A Freightliner spokeswoman said: ‘We are very conscious that the removal of the Severn Crossing toll reduces the cost of road transport, whilst rail transport has seen no equivalent reduction in its costs’.
In early January, an established Freightliner working from Felixstowe to the operator’s Bristol terminal was diverted through the Severn Tunnel to its Wentloog terminal. The spokeswoman said: ‘At the request of our customers, Freightliner is currently trialling a new service from Felixstowe to our Wentloog site in Cardiff’.
Modern Railways understands that the train carries wine destined for a large warehouse in Avonmouth. Previously lorries conveyed the containers from the Bristol terminal to the warehouse. Now they convey the containers, toll-free, across the Severn. Road access to warehousing in Avonmouth from South Wales will be improved by a £49 million new junction on the M49, due for completion in December. Rhodri Clark