Drivers can now cross the River Severn estuary from England into Wales for free for the first time in 800 years, after the abolition of tolls on the Prince of Wales and original Severn Crossing came into effect today (December 17th).
In a move that will save fleet drivers and other commuters up to £1,400 a year, the toll booths have been closed and the barriers taken away. The measure is expected to provide a significant economic boost for the economic region stretching from the west of Wales to the south west of England, as it will make it cheaper for consumers and workers to cross the border.
Indeed, the economy of South Wales is expected to enjoy a £100 million a year annual boost from the move.
The scrapping of the toll comes after 800 years of people having to pay to cross the Severn, whether by boat, rail or toll road.
Secretary of state for Wales Alun Cairns commented: “The end of the tolls is a major milestone for the economies of South Wales and South West of England, and will remove historic barriers between communities.
“Scrapping the tolls means an end to generations of people paying to simply cross the border, and delivering this has been one of my key aims as welsh secretary.”
Transport secretary Chris Grayling said the abolition of the tolls fulfils a manifesto commitment made by the Conservatives at last year’s election.
It means fleet drivers can now enjoy easier journeys along the full length of the M4 toll free, stretching from London to Cardiff and Swansea via towns and cities such as Reading, Swindon, Bristol and Newport.
The first ferry crossings were recorded in 1775, before which travellers would have to head as far north as Gloucester to cross the river. The first bridge over the estuary was opened in 1966 and the second severn crossing was completed in 1992.
Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “This is great news for any motorists in the area who stand to save lots of money from not paying the toll.”