M6 Toll 'performing well' despite congestion concerns and costs criticism
The M6 Toll remains in good health financially, according to its boss who has rebutted suggestions it is not making money.
The toll road, which runs near Cannock, has never made a profit due to the large costs associated with building it but its revenues continue to climb year on year.
Chief executive Andy Cliffe also said he was not concerned by the prospect of a Labour Government attempting to nationalise the road.
He told the Shropshire Star: "It is in really good shape. Often the view is the road isn't profitable and therefore there are issues there.
"Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is the core operating business is profitable and absolutely fine. We continue to invest in the business going forward and it performs very well."
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The toll road, which was taken over by Australian investment group IFM in 2017, has come in from criticism over the years from politicians and the public due to rising charges and the fact it is privately owned. Fees went up again earlier this year.
Some believe the road could be put to better use under public ownership and help cut congestion and pollution.
Jeremy Corbyn has made no secret of his desire to nationalise rail and utilities and with a general election looming the long-term future of the motorway could be in question.
Sandwell Council leader Yvonne Davies has claimed lorry drivers are avoiding paying to use the toll and adding to congestion in her borough.
Mr Cliffe says he is open to talks with local politicians on efforts to cut congestion in the region and admitted there is more the toll road can do, but he has suggested the toll road is not the answer to cutting congestion as most of its traffic is long distance.
He said: "The road was built as a national piece of infrastructure and its original purpose was all about relieving long-distance traffic off the M6.
"I think there is an opportunity for the road to support local activity. That might be taking journeys off the A5.
"There are more opportunities to take some HGVs off the M6 and that is the focus for us at the moment and we have been successful with that."
He added: "I talk regularly with all local politicians about responding to their issues. Sandwell in particular suffers and my offer remains open if there are particular opportunities or issues they want to address. I want to develop co-solutions."
On the prospect of a Labour Government, Mr Cliffe said: "We have to come back to the core purpose. Labour has its views but the key point for us is to deliver what it was built to deliver. If it is the Conservatives or Labour we would like to work together."
The chief executive said the key to cutting congestion was the wider transport network.
He said: "It's about having a balanced transport strategy. It's about the bus network, the tram network and the movement onto rail.
"The productivity benefits that flow from de-congestion of the network are a vitally important part of what makes the region attractive and competitive."