Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly will announce she is axeing plans to use satellite technology to track cars and force their owners to pay for driving by the mile in an attempt to ease congestion.
The announcement is a huge victory for the Mirror and our columnist Richard Hammond, who led the No To The Toll Tax campaign.
He handed an anti-toll tax petition signed by 1.8 million people to outgoing Prime Minister Tony Blair last year.
A senior Government source yesterday said a nationwide satellite tracking system was “no longer in our thinking.”
The source added: “We have listened to people’s concerns about the privacy of a nationwide tracking system. We have listened to people’s concerns about being forced to pay a toll instead of having a choice.
“But we still want to do something about the congestion on our motorways which as most people know is immensely frustrating.”
Richard said the news was a “great victory.” He added: “It just shows what ordinary motorists can do when get together and stand up to the Government.”
Ms Kelly will today say she wants a new study to look at converting most motorways in the country into four-lane roads by using the hard shoulder. The outside lane could then be used as a “toll lane” for drivers who are in a hurry and willing to pay extra to beat the traffic.
Or it could be reserved for cars that are carrying more than one person.
In a speech to road experts in London, Ms Kelly will say she believes converting most motorways into fourlane roads is by far the best option for increasing capacity on motorways.
The current hard shoulders will be replaced by “emergency refuges” every 500 metres to allow drivers with car trouble to pull out of the traffic. There has been a successful trial of hard-shoulder running on the M42 motorway near Birmingham.
During busy periods, the hard shoulder was used as an extra lane and the speed limit reduced to 50mph.
A feasibility study found congestion and vehicle emissions were reduced.
Rebecca Lush-Blum, from the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “The M42 trial that the government has been running has shown opening up the hard shoulder really does work.
“Congestion is down and traffic flows are smoother.
“But crucially, because the traffic goes down to 50 mph, air pollution went down, carbon emissions went down and accidents went down.”
Source: The Mirror