Drivers are to be given the option of paying to drive faster in extra lanes on up to 500 miles of Britain’s most congested motorways.
The toll lanes will have speed limits 10 or 20mph faster than adjacent uncharged lanes. The lanes will be created either by turning the hard shoulder into a running lane or by building an extra lane.
The speed limit for each lane will be displayed on overhead gantries. The toll lanes are likely to be introduced on the most congested sections of the M1, M4, M3, M5, M6, M20, M23, M27 and M62.
Ruth Kelly, transport secretary, said: “Allowing motorists to enter a reserved lane if they are carrying passengers or willing to pay a toll gives them a real choice without having to change their route.”
Rob Gifford, director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, said: “Two limits on the same motorway could confuse drivers. The Government would need to think very carefully about the unintended consequence of more crashes on a more controlled network.”