Fine Gael TD for Clare, Pat Breen, has today (Wednesday) welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar TD, of a toll free month in November for High Goods Vehicles (HGVs) using the Limerick Tunnel, which will put an end to the traffic chaos experienced in towns and cities around the Mid-West Region.
“I welcome the announcement by Minister Varadkar to include the Limerick Tunnel as part of the toll holiday on selected motorways around the country. For far too long, HGVs have been avoiding paying tolls on motorways and the Limerick Tunnel and instead using local routes to get to their destination.
“The use of minor, regional and national roads by HGVs has safety implications for everyone who uses these roads in areas such as Caherdavin and the Ennis Road in Limerick.
“The Limerick Tunnel connects the entire Mid-West Region and it is the single most important piece of road infrastructure in the area, facilitating easier access for people travelling to Shannon International Airport.
“I am encouraging all HGV operators to avail of this toll holiday and use the Limerick Tunnel so that people can go about their daily business without interruption.”
See Oral PQ tabled by Deputy Breen to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport underneath for your attention.
To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans for a toll holiday for HGV’s; if he plans to review toll charges in general for HGV’s with a view to encouraging greater utilisation of motorway networks by HGV’s; and if he will make a statement on the matter. - Pat Breen. For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 1st October, 2013. Ref No: 40506/13
I am concerned that large numbers of HGVs continue to use regional and local roads in order to avoid tolls, and are driving through towns, villages and rural areas with large populations. This has safety implications for other road users, residents and pedestrians. In addition by using local and regional roads instead of custom-built motorways, HGVs are adding to the wear and tear of the legacy roads network.
For this reason I asked the National Roads Authority (NRA) to look at the feasibility of lifting tolls for heavy goods vehicles for one month on one or more motorways across the country, as a trial.
Based on the feedback I have received I have decided to go ahead with the toll free month on a number of routes - the M1, M3, M6 and Limerick Tunnel. By trialling a toll free month on these routes I want to see if HGV operators can be persuaded to use the motorways more. While there is a cost attached to this I think it is worthwhile to give us an opportunity to study traffic levels in detail and assess the implications and for HGV operators to evaluate the time and efficiency benefits of using these motorways.
I have selected the routes for inclusion in the trial with the issue of regular avoidance of parts of the motorway network by heavy goods vehicles very much in mind. The M1 outside Drogheda is a good example, where large numbers of HGVs avoid the toll but have to pass through Slane in order to do so, which is hugely inconvenient to both the truck drivers and local residents.
The M3 motorway from Dublin to Kells, the M6 from Ballinasloe to Galway and the Limerick tunnel are also good examples, with large numbers of trucks using the older road nearby to avoid the tolls.
I can’t say at this point that this trial will lead to any change in tolling policy. While toll rates vary in line with consumer prices, the base rates are built into the PPP financing arrangements that enabled the high quality motorway network to be built. Any change to the financial arrangements would clearly have significant implications and would have to be carefully evaluated.