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Volume 496: debated on Thursday 16 July 2009

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what Government (a) studies, (b) trials and (c) pilots have been commissioned on road pricing in each year since 1997; and how much each cost. (284706)

The Department for Transport has commissioned studies and trials since 1997 to increase its understanding of the key challenges of developing robust and reliable road user charging processes, procedures and technologies. These included the Road Pricing Feasibility Study, the DIRECTS trials on interoperability and other systems engineering studies which between them incurred total expenditure of approximately £29 million, between 1997 and 2007. We have no breakdown of this in the form requested. We have not commissioned any pilots on road pricing.

Since 2007 effort has concentrated on the Demonstrations Project, examining the technology and processes that would be needed if any road pricing scheme was to have the ability to charge by time and distance travelled, as well as place. The first phases of this work are under way following the letting of contracts in September 2008, with a value of £10 million. The project has created a research environment to help us understand the feasibility, operational performance and business issues for market delivered services; however, the Government have no plans to introduce national road pricing.