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Money Making Tolls

Amelia Scholey, Brand and Content Specialist
Wednesday, 19 January 2022
Money Making Tolls header

Which of the toll roads make the greatest revenue from their charges?

Paying for the privilege of using the roads isn’t something that Brits are all that used to, with the number of toll roads falling drastically since the days of ‘turnpike trusts’ in the 19th century.

However, a number of roads, bridges and tunnels do still require you to pay a charge, and there are reportedly plans to introduce a new ‘pay as you drive’ toll too.

But while toll roads in the UK are relatively rare, they can still be a nasty surprise for motorists, and potentially a quite expensive one too, especially when you’re looking to secure car finance.

So, which of the country’s toll roads make the most money, and which will cost you the most to use? And how do things look across the rest of Europe too?

Which UK toll roads make the greatest revenue?

Money Making Tolls

Which of the toll roads make the greatest revenue from their charges?

Paying for the privilege of using the roads isn’t something that Brits are all that used to, with the number of toll roads falling drastically since the days of ‘turnpike trusts’ in the 19th century.

However, a number of roads, bridges and tunnels do still require you to pay a charge, and there are reportedly plans to introduce a new ‘pay as you drive’ toll too.

But while toll roads in the UK are relatively rare, they can still be a nasty surprise for motorists, and potentially a quite expensive one too, especially when you’re looking to secure car finance.

So, which of the country’s toll roads make the most money, and which will cost you the most to use? And how do things look across the rest of Europe too?

Highest revenue toll road
2nd highest revenue toll road
3rd highest revenue toll road
Highest revenue toll road
2nd highest revenue toll road
3rd highest revenue toll road
Highest revenues toll roads
  1. M25 Dartford Crossing – Dartford, Essex (£209 million)

The toll road that makes the most money in the country is the Dartford Crossing on the M25, which had total revenue of £209 million for 2019-20.

Around £90 million of this came from drivers paying via account, twice as much as from those without accounts (£45 million).

However, a large bulk of the bridge’s income (£73 million) comes from ‘enforcement’, meaning fines for those who have failed to pay!

 

  1. M6 Toll – West Midlands (£53.7 million)

Despite charging almost three times as much as the Dartford Crossing, the revenue generated by the M6 Toll road isn’t quite as great but is still a huge £53.7 million.

The M6 Toll is the country’s only major toll road and runs through the West Midlands. While it can be avoided by taking other routes, it’s clear that many are happy to pay the price for convenience, with the road netting its owners Midland Expressway Ltd over half a million pounds in 2020.

 

  1. A533 Mersey Gateway – Halton, Cheshire (£41.2 million)

Another high-earning bridge is the Mersey Gateway in Cheshire, which connects the towns of Runcorn and Widnes, which made over £40 million between October 2020 and September 2021.

The Mersey Gateway actually refers to two bridges, the Gateway itself and the nearby Silver Jubilee Bridge that it was built to ease pressure on, which was then also converted into a toll bridge.

Which UK toll roads are the most expensive to use?

  1. M25 Dartford Crossing – Dartford, Essex (£209 million)

The toll road that makes the most money in the country is the Dartford Crossing on the M25, which had total revenue of £209 million for 2019-20.

Around £90 million of this came from drivers paying via account, twice as much as from those without accounts (£45 million).

However, a large bulk of the bridge’s income (£73 million) comes from ‘enforcement’, meaning fines for those who have failed to pay!

 

  1. M6 Toll – West Midlands (£53.7 million)

Despite charging almost three times as much as the Dartford Crossing, the revenue generated by the M6 Toll road isn’t quite as great but is still a huge £53.7 million.

The M6 Toll is the country’s only major toll road and runs through the West Midlands. While it can be avoided by taking other routes, it’s clear that many are happy to pay the price for convenience, with the road netting its owners Midland Expressway Ltd over half a million pounds in 2020.

 

  1. A533 Mersey Gateway – Halton, Cheshire (£41.2 million)

Another high-earning bridge is the Mersey Gateway in Cheshire, which connects the towns of Runcorn and Widnes, which made over £40 million between October 2020 and September 2021.

The Mersey Gateway actually refers to two bridges, the Gateway itself and the nearby Silver Jubilee Bridge that it was built to ease pressure on, which was then also converted into a toll bridge.

Which UK toll roads are the most expensive to use?

M6 Toll charge
M25 Dartford Crossing charge
Mersey Gateway charge
M6 Toll charge
M25 Dartford Crossing charge
Mersey Gateway charge
Highest toll road charges
  1. M6 Toll – West Midlands (£7.00)

The M6 Toll is by far the most expensive stretch of road to use in the UK, with a charge of £7.00 for class 2 vehicles (cars) to use between the hours of 7am and 7pm.

That charge is almost doubled for class 5 vehicles (HGVs and coaches) which have to pay £12.60, although there are discounts for both at off-peak times and weekends.

Tolls can be paid in cash, by card, or by using an automated M6 Toll tag, which contains a microchip linked to an account, to allow for automated payment.

 

  1. M25 Dartford Crossing – Dartford, Essex (£2.50)

The Dartford Crossing costs £2.50 to cross for cars (although is free for motorcycles), with a £70 fine if you fail to pay, which many people clearly end up having to pay, as we’ve seen through the bridge’s £73 million ‘enforcement’ income.

The crossing is one of the busiest stretches of road in the entire country, with the charge being branded as a congestion scheme.

Like the M6 Toll, an automatic payment scheme called the ‘Dart Charge’ is in place and the toll is only payable online, by post, or in certain retail outlets.

 

  1. Mersey Gateway & Tamar Bridge – Cheshire & Devon (both £2.00)

Two toll routes are tied in third place with a cost of £2.00 each. The first also had the third-highest revenue, the Mersey Gateway, while the second is the Tamar Bridge in Plymouth.

The Tamar is a suspension bridge that links Plymouth to Cornwall, but the £2.00 charge is only payable when travelling eastbound into Devon, and can be cut in half by paying via the electronic TamarTag scheme.

Which European toll roads are the most expensive to use?

  1. M6 Toll – West Midlands (£7.00)

The M6 Toll is by far the most expensive stretch of road to use in the UK, with a charge of £7.00 for class 2 vehicles (cars) to use between the hours of 7am and 7pm.

That charge is almost doubled for class 5 vehicles (HGVs and coaches) which have to pay £12.60, although there are discounts for both at off-peak times and weekends.

Tolls can be paid in cash, by card, or by using an automated M6 Toll tag, which contains a microchip linked to an account, to allow for automated payment.

 

  1. M25 Dartford Crossing – Dartford, Essex (£2.50)

The Dartford Crossing costs £2.50 to cross for cars (although is free for motorcycles), with a £70 fine if you fail to pay, which many people clearly end up having to pay, as we’ve seen through the bridge’s £73 million ‘enforcement’ income.

The crossing is one of the busiest stretches of road in the entire country, with the charge being branded as a congestion scheme.

Like the M6 Toll, an automatic payment scheme called the ‘Dart Charge’ is in place and the toll is only payable online, by post, or in certain retail outlets.

 

  1. Mersey Gateway & Tamar Bridge – Cheshire & Devon (both £2.00)

Two toll routes are tied in third place with a cost of £2.00 each. The first also had the third-highest revenue, the Mersey Gateway, while the second is the Tamar Bridge in Plymouth.

The Tamar is a suspension bridge that links Plymouth to Cornwall, but the £2.00 charge is only payable when travelling eastbound into Devon, and can be cut in half by paying via the electronic TamarTag scheme.

Which European toll roads are the most expensive to use?

Eurotunnel charge
Oresund Bridge charge
Mont Blanc charge
Eurotunnel charge
Oresund Bridge charge
Mont Blanc charge
European highest charging tolls
  1. Eurotunnel – France (€132.00)

By far the most expensive road to travel in Europe is the Channel Tunnel that connects France with the UK, running under the Strait of Dover.

At a cost of €132 for cars to cross, it costs more than twice as much as any other one-off toll in Europe.

While that’s a huge fee in comparison to others on the list, the tunnel is the only road to drive your vehicle from the European mainland to the UK and vice versa.

 

  1. Øresund Bridge – Denmark/Sweden (€55.00)

In second place, at a cost of €55 is the Øresund Bridge, a combined railway and motorway bridge across the Øresund strait that connects Denmark and Sweden.

It’s the longest bridge of its type in Europe, hence the fact that it is also the most expensive to cross.

However, even at 8km long, the bridge doesn’t actually take you all the way to the other side of the strait, instead, you have to complete the rest of the journey via the Drogden Tunnel, from the artificial island of Peberholm in the middle.

 

  1. Mont Blanc & Fréjus Road Tunnels – France/Italy (€47.40)

In third place are two tunnels that connect France and Italy, both at a cost of €47.40. As the name suggests, the former runs under Mont Blanc and is one of the major routes across the Alps.

The Fréjus Road Tunnel was opened in 1980 to ease pressure on the Mont Blanc tunnel and is now a major route in itself, with 20 million vehicles passing through in its first 20 years alone.

Methodology

Revenue

The revenues shown are all for the most recent 12 month period available and show the total income received by the toll road, bridge, or tunnel, or by the company that runs them.

Toll charges

Toll charges all refer to the cost for a class 2 vehicle (two-axle car) travelling through the day on a weekday, paying a full price toll without any discounts.

A full list of sources for both revenue and toll charges can be viewed here.

  1. Eurotunnel – France (€132.00)

By far the most expensive road to travel in Europe is the Channel Tunnel that connects France with the UK, running under the Strait of Dover.

At a cost of €132 for cars to cross, it costs more than twice as much as any other one-off toll in Europe.

While that’s a huge fee in comparison to others on the list, the tunnel is the only road to drive your vehicle from the European mainland to the UK and vice versa.

 

  1. Øresund Bridge – Denmark/Sweden (€55.00)

In second place, at a cost of €55 is the Øresund Bridge, a combined railway and motorway bridge across the Øresund strait that connects Denmark and Sweden.

It’s the longest bridge of its type in Europe, hence the fact that it is also the most expensive to cross.

However, even at 8km long, the bridge doesn’t actually take you all the way to the other side of the strait, instead, you have to complete the rest of the journey via the Drogden Tunnel, from the artificial island of Peberholm in the middle.

 

  1. Mont Blanc & Fréjus Road Tunnels – France/Italy (€47.40)

In third place are two tunnels that connect France and Italy, both at a cost of €47.40. As the name suggests, the former runs under Mont Blanc and is one of the major routes across the Alps.

The Fréjus Road Tunnel was opened in 1980 to ease pressure on the Mont Blanc tunnel and is now a major route in itself, with 20 million vehicles passing through in its first 20 years alone.

Methodology

Revenue

The revenues shown are all for the most recent 12 month period available and show the total income received by the toll road, bridge, or tunnel, or by the company that runs them.

Toll charges

Toll charges all refer to the cost for a class 2 vehicle (two-axle car) travelling through the day on a weekday, paying a full price toll without any discounts.

A full list of sources for both revenue and toll charges can be viewed here.

Amelia Scholey, Brand and Content Specialist
Bringing you the latest motor news so you can stay informed, whether you drive a car, motorbike or van.
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