Photo credits @ Amanda Slater via CC VY-SA 2.0

All you need to know about M6 Toll: 2022 charges, Automatic Number Plate Recognition and TAG

As it is the only major toll road in Great Britain, first-time users might be intimidated by where the toll section starts and how to pay the charges of M6 Toll. To make life easier, Trans.iNFO has gathered all the practical information you need to know.

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The M6 Toll, originally known as the Birmingham Northern Relief Road, is England’s only tolled motorway. It is designed to take freight away from Birmingham to reduce congestion around the city’s M6 junctions.

Where is the M6 Toll?

M6 Toll motorway (Great Britain) map

The M6 Toll or Midland Expressway connects M6 Junction 3a at the Coleshill Interchange to M6 Junction 11A at Wolverhampton with 27 miles (43 km) of the six-lane motorway.

It covers a total distance of 27 miles – or 43 kilometres.

Where are the entry and exit of the M6 Toll?

Although sat navs now provide prompt guides on how to enter and exit M6, in case of the lack of reception, it is a good idea to download the collection of maps M6toll has provided to help road users.

You can find them in a free-to-download pdf file HERE.

Where should I pay the M6 toll?

The M6 Toll  has two payment plazas:

  • the Great Wyrley Toll Plaza for northbound – between junctions T6 and T7,
  • and Weeford Toll Plaza for southbound – between junctions T4 and T3.

Those who have purchased the pre-paid TAG device, or use the Local Saver Scheme, are allowed to drive through the gates but still need to enter the M6 Toll section via these plazas.

Who has to pay the M6 toll?

Except for those who have got a Mobility Exemption Pass, every vehicle has to pay to use the M6 Toll.

Even a Blue Badge doesn’t allow free road usage, however, some Blue Badge holders can apply for the Mobility Exemption Pass.

The Mobility Exemption is valid for one year for the vehicle and person listed on the application form, and an annual application is required.

The Emergency Services and vehicles of the Ministry of Defence are exempt – in line with the relevant regulations.

Who is eligible for an M6 Toll Mobility Exemption Pass?

Those who have a disability, or work for an organisation which transports people with disabilities, may be eligible for an M6toll Mobility Exemption.

This is how the M6 Toll website describes the Mobility Exemption requirements:

To qualify for a Mobility Exemption on the M6toll, Midland Expressway Limited is governed by The New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 and the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994, the holder must be in receipt of one of the following and provide evidence when making an application:

  • A V5 Vehicle Registration Document showing the vehicle registration number and the road tax classification ‘Disabled’
  • A confirmation letter to claim vehicle road tax classification status of ‘Disabled’ and vehicle registration number under a Motability Vehicle Lease Agreement
  • War pensioner mobility supplement
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment.
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA) by virtue of entitlement to the Mobility Component at the Higher Rate.
  • Is in receipt of disability assistance for children and young people by virtue of entitlement to the Mobility Component at the Higher Rate.
  • Personal Independent Payment (PIP) by virtue of entitlement to the Mobility Component at the Enhanced Rate.

How to pay the M6 toll?

There are three ways to pay the M6 Toll;

  • you can pay by card at the gates (credit, debit and fuel cards are accepted),
  • prepay online and use the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) lanes,
  • or use pre-paid TAG device.

Paying the M6 toll by card at the gates

Drivers can simply drive to the gates marked with the CARD signal above and pay the toll either contactless or using their PIN.

How does the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system work on the M6 Toll?

Those local drivers who use the M6 Toll regularly are recommended to create a Local Saver account on the M6 Toll website. The account provides cheaper travelling and allows drivers to use the two leftmost lanes which are equipped with the Automatic Number Plate Recognition system.

This means drivers do not have to stop at the gates, they should slow down to allow the system some time to recognise their number plate and open the barrier – and then drive through.

TAG – how can one prepay the M6 Toll and use the express lane?

Drivers whose vehicles are equipped with a TAG device should use the rightmost lane to go through the TAG gate. The lane is marked with a TAG sign above the gate.

Drivers need to slow down to leave time for the system to recognise their vehicle and open the gate but don’t have to stop.

Can I pay for the M6 Toll in cash?

Beware, cash payment is not available at the M6 Toll!

If someone cannot pay by card, they will be issued a payment notice with a period of time to make the payment. The charge can be paid through the M6 Toll website.

There’s a £70 penalty charge if the payment isn’t made.

How much is the M6 toll?

Tolls from 22 August 2022

Vehicle class Weekday
(05:00–7:00) (19:00-23:00)
Mainline Junction Mainline Junction Mainline Junction Mainline Junction
Class 1 (motorbikes) £3.70 £2.70 £3.70 £2.70 £3.00 £2.20 £3.70 £2.70
Class 2 (cars) £7.60 £5.40 £7.30 £5.40 £5.40 £4.50 £7.30 £5.40
Class 3 (cars with trailers) £11.60 £8.40 £11.60 £8.40 £9.30 £6.80 £10.90 £8.20
Class 4 (vans or motorhomes) £13.30 £11.90 £13.30 £11.90 £11.10 £9.60 £12.00 £10.80
Class 5+ (HGVs or coach) £13.80 £12.60 £13.80 £12.60 £11.50 £10.00 £12.50 £11.30

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

Why do you need to pay for the M6 Toll?

While other motorways in the UK are state-owned, the M6toll is privately owned.  It was built and privately funded by Midland Expressway Ltd and will continue to be run by MEL until 2054 – this is why drivers need to pay for using the M6 toll.

How can you avoid the M6 Toll?

The simplest way to find out how to avoid the M6 Toll, is to use an online route planner app which allows you to choose toll-free routes only.

How do you set up your phone to avoid tolls?

It is simple, just follow these steps:

  1. Go to settings
  2. Choose Navigation settings
  3. Scroll down to find “Avoid toll roads” and activate it.

Otherwise, if you have some local knowledge and your location is closer to the northern arc of the M6 Toll, you can drive along the A5 and pick up the A452.

Or, if you’re driving from the south and heading somewhere to the east, you can use the state-owned M42 which runs parallel with the M6 Toll for a short stretch.

M6 history in a nutshell

The M6 Toll was opened in December 2003. However, proposals for a new publicly funded motorway were on the table since 1980. It was originally to be called the A446(M) Birmingham Northern Relief Road and was designed to alleviate the traffic on the M6 through Birmingham and the Black Country in England.

After years of debate, 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.

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.

What will happen when the contract runs out? Will the M6 Toll ever be free?

Midland Expressway Ltd will operate the M6 Toll until 2054. After that, the infrastructure shall be returned to the government. As state-owned motorways are generally free to use in England, the M6 Toll might also be free.

Photo credits @ Amanda Slater via CC BY-SA 2.0