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M6 Toll sold to Australian investors

IFM which co-owns Manchester Airport and Anglian Water is behind the deal to keep the toll motorway in private hands

The M6 Toll motorway has been sold to an Australian pension fund which co-owns Manchester Airport, scuppering any chance of it coming under public control.

IFM has bought the UK's only pay-as-you-go motorway after last month emerging as the front runner to complete the deal.

The 27-mile toll road opened in December 2003 and was originally owned by Australian bank Macquarie before a group of 27 lenders bought the motorway in December 2013 and then put it up for sale at a price of around £1.9 billion.

Christian Seymour, head of infrastructure Europe at IFM Investors said: “M6 Toll has an essential role to play in easing congestion at the heart of the UK motorway network, and we recognise its importance to the community and for commercial users. As a long-term investor investing on behalf of pension funds, including UK local authority pension schemes, we will be focused on operating M6 toll responsibly and ensuring its long-term viability.

“M6 Toll complements our existing portfolio of toll road and other infrastructure investments. We bring significant knowledge from being a hands-on owner of toll roads for over 15 years, in which time we’ve delivered substantial benefit and value to these individual assets and the communities they serve. Under our stewardship, we believe M6 Toll can provide stable and secure returns for our pension fund investors over many years.”

The aim of the M6 Toll has always been to ease congestion on the M6 and roads around north Birmingham which can become heavily clogged at rush hour and when there is an accident or breakdown.

But the price of using the toll has been a constant topic of debate, with drivers saying it is too expensive to use regularly.

It charges between £3.80 and £5.50 for cars and up to £11 for large lorries and coaches.

In February last year, the region's road network ground to halt for a day after an overnight crash on the M6 at Castle Bromwich meant the road had to be closed in both directions for resurfacing.

A string of recommendations were made in a subsequent enquiry while Solihull MP Julian Knight asked transport ministers to make the M6 Toll free in emergencies.

There has also been calls to make the road permanently free of charge.

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