M6 Toll

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UK-Motorway-M6 Toll.svg
Toll plaza for northbound traffic at Great Wyrley

The M6 Toll, also called the Birmingham North Relief Road (BNRR), connects M6 Junction 3a at the Coleshill Interchange to M6 Junction 11A at Wolverhampton with 27 miles of six-lane motorway. The M6 Toll has one service station along its 27-mile stretch, Norton Canes services. The M6 Toll is a pay as you go motorway with two toll plazas, Great Wyrley Toll Plaza for northbound and Weeford Toll Plaza for southbound. The northbound toll plaza is situated between junctions T6 and T7 of the toll and the southbound toll is between junctions T4 and T3.


Planning and construction

Proposals for a new publicly funded motorway were circulated in 1980.[1] It was originally called the Birmingham North Relief Road (BNRR) and designed to alleviate the increasing congestion on the M6 through Birmingham and the Black Country. This was the busiest section of the M6, carrying up to 180,000 vehicles per day when it was designed to carry only 72,000.[2]

Five alternative routes were put for consultation in 1980 and a preferred route was published in 1986. In 1989 there was a public inquiry relating to a publicly funded motorway.[1]

In 1989 it was announced that it would be built privately and a competition took place which was won by Midland Expressway Ltd in 1991.[1] The contract was for a 53-year concession to build and operate the road as an early form of public-private partnership with the operator paying for the construction and recouping its costs by setting and collecting tolls, allowing for a 3-year construction period followed by 50 years of operation. At the end of this period the infrastructure would be returned to the Government. Toll rates are set at the discretion of the operator at six-monthly intervals and there is no cap on the rates charged.[3]

There was a second public inquiry from relating to the new scheme in 1994–1995 and a go-ahead in 1997. A legal challenge was made by the 'Alliance against BNRR' which was cleared in 1998.[1]

MEL contracted out the construction of the road to a consortium of major contractors Carillion, Alfred McAlpine, Balfour Beatty and AMEC (together known as CAMBBA).[1]

Site clearance started in 2000 and the road opened in December 2003.[1] When creating the surface of the road some 2.5 million Mills & Boon novels were pulped and mixed into the tarmac to help the surface absorbency.[4]

Construction work began in the summer of 2002.

In August 2003 freight operators indicated that they planned to keep their vehicles on the heavily congested M6 through Birmingham rather than send them on the new motorway due to high fees. The AA Motoring Trust said it welcomed the decision to make lorries pay a premium rate explaining that "Car drivers find lorries intimidating and they frequently hold up traffic on motorways when overtaking each other.[5]

The road was partially opened on 9 December 2003 for traffic entering from local junctions, then fully opened on 14 December 2003.[6]

Traffic levels

In December 2004, one year after opening, Friends of the Earth issued a press release expressing concern that faced with lower than expected traffic numbers, Midland Expressway were trying to attract new traffic-generating developments to greenbelt and greenfield sites in the M6 Toll Corridor.[7] and in April 2005 the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors reported that there was strong interest in the commercial property market place around the M6 Toll "zone of influence".[8]

In May 2005 the Macquarie Infrastructure Group reported that traffic figures were "disappointing".[9] In August 2005 the Highways Agency confirmed in its own 'one year' study showing that usage had settled at around 50,000 vehicle per day (lower than the predicted 74,000) but that traffic volumes on the M6 had reduced slightly.[10]

From 2008, traffic levels started to fall. Traffic in the first quarter of 2009 was 39,000 vehicles-per-day (Monday-Friday figures),[11] but recovered to reach 54,000 in the second quarter of 2015.[12]


Tolls can be paid by one of four means: automated coin payments, payment at a staffed toll booth, automated credit/debit card payments or in advance via an M6 Toll tag. Not all methods are available at all toll gates; each of the toll gates features an electronic sign showing the payment methods available at the time.

Vehicles are classified electronically at the toll booths according to their number of wheels, number of axles and height at first axle. Thus vehicles with trailers are charged extra and some large models of 4x4 are classified as vans.

Failure to pay the toll for using the motorway is a civil offence; anyone attempting to do so will be issued with an unpaid toll notice and required to send payment. If it is not paid within two days a £10 administration charge is added, plus further costs will be added if the toll is still unpaid after 14 days.

An M6 Toll tag is an electronic toll collection device attached to a vehicle's windscreen, which records the vehicle's passage through toll plazas on the M6 Toll.

Each tag can only be used with the registered number plate and has a unique account. All accounts on the M6 Toll are pre-paid, and must contain a positive balance, sufficient to cover the cost of the vehicle's toll, in order for the vehicle to be allowed through the toll gate. If the balance is sufficient, the tag will beep once and the barrier at the toll gate will automatically raise. If the balance is low (fewer than three journeys remaining), the tag will beep twice. If the balance of the account cannot cover the cost of the toll, the barrier will remain closed and an alternative method of payment must be used. Balances can be topped up automatically once a month using Direct Debit or credit card, or by cheque.

The tags contain a microchip which uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology. Physically, the tag resembles a DART-Tag, as used to pay the tolls on the Dartford Crossing. However, the two systems do not interoperate.

Midland Expressway Ltd

The contract to build and operate the M6 Toll was won by Midland Expressway Ltd (MEL) in 1991.[1] In 2005 MEL reported an operating profit of around £16 million. Total revenue was £45 million, with staff and other operating costs amounting to £11.4 million and depreciation of £17.4 million. Taking into account net interest costs of around £43 million, that leaves an overall loss of £26.5 million in 2005 – their first full financial year.[13]

As of June 2005, MEL was 100% owned by Macquarie Infrastructure Group (MIG) of Australia, which operated several tolled roads in Australia and North America. Long term debt was £819 million as of 30 June 2005. Disappointing traffic figures for 2005 led to a price rise in June, and MIG Chief Executive Steve Allen commented in the Australian newspaper The Age, "What we need is to slow down the M6".[14]

Business leaders in Staffordshire, now effectively closer to London, welcomed the opening of the road, saying that it would make it easier to do business there.[15]

In June 2006 the decision to not increase tolls was put down to disappointing traffic levels and led to a reduction in value for the owner.[16]

In 2010 MIG was split into two, and the M6 Toll is now managed by Macquarie Atlas Roads.[17]


The M6 Toll has few junctions, and some have limited access to discourage local traffic. Like modern toll roads in continental Europe, the M6 Toll still uses toll plazas.

The construction of the motorway threatened the restoration of the Lichfield Canal, which cut across the motorway's route. The Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust campaigned and raised funds to build an aqueduct to carry the canal over the motorway.[18] The aqueduct has been finished but the canal has yet to reach it, giving it an odd appearance, known to some local residents as 'The Climbing Lemming Bridge'.

The motorway's only service station is situated at Norton Canes, between junctions T6 and T7.


The towns, cities and roads listed are those given on road signs on the motorway as the junction is approached.

M6 Toll motorway
No. Coordinates Northbound Tolls Southbound Tolls
Northern end 52°40’6"N, 2°4’18"W Merge with M6 J11a northbound None Begins from M6 J11a southbound None
T8 Wedges Mills 52°39’54"N, 2°3’26"W A460 (M6 south) – Wolverhampton None Entry None
T7 Churchbridge 52°40’21"N, 2°-0’55"W A34/A460 – Walsall/Cannock/Rugeley None Entry None
52°40’4"N, 2°0’1"W Great Wyrley Toll Plaza
52°39’45"N, 1°58’9"W Norton Canes services
T6 Brownhills 52°39’44"N, 1°55’34"W A5195 – Brownhills/Burntwood (exit and entry) Exit A5195 – Brownhills/Burntwood (exit and entry) Exit
T5 Wall 52°38’52"N, 1°50’5"W Entry from A5127 (A5/A5148) None A5148 (A38) – Lichfield/Burton Exit
T4 Weeford Junction 52°38’18"N, 1°48’40"W A38/A5 – Burton/Lichfield/Tamworth (exit and entry) Exit A5 (M42 north) – Tamworth (exit and entry) Exit
52°37’24"N, 1°48’3"W Weeford Park Toll Plaza (S)
T3 Langley Mill 52°33’57"N, 1°45’55"W A38 – Sutton Coldfield (exit and entry) Exit A38 – Birmingham (N)/Sutton Coldfield (exit and entry) Entry
T2 52°33’6"N, 1°44’12"W No entry or exit None A446 (M42 north) – Coleshill None
M6 Merge Merge from M6 J4a southbound None None
T1 Split for M42 northbound, entry from A4097 (M42 J9, A446) None Merge with M42 southbound None
Southern end Merge between M42 northbound and M6 J3a northbound None Split between southbound M42 and a merge with M6 J3a southbound None


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 "M6 Toll – Overview". M6 Toll. Archived from the original on 11 February 2008. https://web.archive.org/web/20080211200131/http://www.m6toll.co.uk/about/project.asp. Retrieved 24 January 2008. 
  2. "M6 Toll - four years on". BBC Online. 2007-11-30. http://www.bbc.co.uk/birmingham/content/articles/2007/11/30/m6_toll_have_your_say_feature.shtml. Retrieved 2015-09-05. 
  3. "Lords Hansard text". 14 June 2005. Archived from nsrd/pdvn/lds05/text/50614w04.htm the original on 16 January 2016. http://web.archive.org/web/20160116183303/http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld199900/ldha. Retrieved 30 September 2007. 
  4. "M6 Toll built with pulped fiction". BBC News. 3 December 2003. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_midlands/3330245.stm. Retrieved 24 January 2008. 
  5. Ben Webster (3 August 2003). "drivers to bypass toll road". The Times (London). http://driving.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/driving/article1068918.eceLorry. Retrieved 24 January 2008. 
  6. "M6 Toll figures 'encouraging'". BBC News. 24 December 2003. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/staffordshire/3346931.stm. Retrieved 24 January 2008. 
  7. "First Anniversary of M6 Toll Opening". Friends of the Earth. 9 December 2004. Archived from the original on 14 May 2005. https://web.archive.org/20050514063135/http://www.foe.org.uk:80/resource/press_releases/first_anniversary_of_m6_to_08122004.html. Retrieved 24 January 2008. 
  8. John de Kanter (1 May 2005). "The M6 Toll: 12 Months On". Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors. Archived from the original on 4 May 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080504075553/http://www.rics.org/lostproperty/Jennifer+Deletions/m6toll010405.htm. Retrieved 24 January 2008. 
  9. "MIG M6 April Traffic Disappointing – GSJBW". new ratings. 23 May 2005. http://www.newratings.com/analyst_news/article_814169.html. Retrieved 24 January 2008. 
  10. "one year after study" (PDF). Highways Agency. 11 August 2005. Archived from the original on 2009-11-18. http://www.webcitation.org/5lNKToGIN. Retrieved 24 January 2008. 
  11. "M6 Toll Q1 2009 Traffic Figures". https://www.m6toll.co.uk/about-us/traffic-figures/2009/17-04-09/. 
  12. "M6 Toll Q2 2015 Traffic Figures". https://www.m6toll.co.uk/about-us/traffic-figures/latest-reports/april-june-2015/. 
  13. "M6Toll traffic returning after toll increase last summer". 13 February 2006. http://tollroadsnews.info/artman/publish/article_1266.shtml. Retrieved 30 September 2007. 
  14. "Morgan takes the chair at BioDiem". The Age (Melbourne). 26 August 2005. http://www.theage.com.au/news/business/morgan-takes-the-chair-at-biodiem/2005/08/26/1124562983424.html. Retrieved 30 September 2007. 
  15. "Head to head: M6 toll road". BBC News. 9 December 2003. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3303629.stm. Retrieved 30 September 2007. 
  16. "MIG's toll decision leads to downgrade". The Sydney Morning Herald. 23 May 2006. http://www.smh.com.au/news/Business/MIGs-toll-decision-leads-to-downgrade/2006/05/23/1148150241558.html. Retrieved 30 September 2007. 
  17. MQA Macquarie Atlas Roads: Asset portfolio. Retrieved 2012-07-24.
  18. "Stress Free Motoring – Not found". M6toll. http://www.m6toll.co.uk/about/environment.asp. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about M6 Toll)
Motorways in the United Kingdom

Great Britain: M1  • M2  • M3  • M4  • M5  • M6  • M6 Toll  • M8  • M9  • M10  • M11  • M18  • M20  • M23  • M25  • M26  • M27  • M32  • M40  • M42  • M45  • M48  • M49  • M50  • M53  • M54  • M55  • M56  • M57  • M58  • M60  • M61  • M62  • M63  • M65  • M66  • M67  • M69  • M73  • M74  • M77  • M80  • M85  • M90  • M180  • M181  • M271  • M275  • M602  • M606  • M621  • M876  • M898  • Sections of A road: A1(M)

Former motorways marked in italics

Northern Ireland: M1  • M2  • M3  • M5  • M12  • M22