Report calls for 'toll lanes' ahead of UK growth review

The Institution for Civil Engineers wants drivers to be able to pay to avoid congestion on the UK's motorways, boosting reports suggesting 'toll lanes' are part of the government's strategy of getting private sector money to fund the country's roads network.

The UK's Institution for Civil Engineers (ICE), an independent professional engineers' association, has published a report calling on government to implement a system of 'toll lanes' that would allow drivers to pay to avoid congestion.
 
“Ideally, when technology allows, [drivers] would be able to book their journey on the roads in the same way that we currently book a train trip – with lower prices at times of low demand and some level of recourse in the event of delays,” the ICE report states.
 
Similar schemes are already used in the US, where they go by the name of 'managed lanes', and are seen as a politically acceptable way to attract private sector funding and introduce road pricing on brownfield roads.
 
Importantly, the ICE study seems to be in line with recent media reports, which suggest UK Chancellor George Osborne is gearing up to announce 'toll lanes' as part of his November 29 growth review.
 
The government had pledged not to introduce tolls for existing roads – a prickly issue with UK voters – but the Daily Mail reported on Monday that ministers believe 'toll lanes' will not contradict these pledges, as they offer motorists a choice.
 
Meanwhile, rumours are coming in thick and fast on the Chancellor's plans to get UK pension funds to invest up to £50 billion (€58 billion; $79 billion) in the country's infrastructure.
 
A Financial Times report published today stated that deals will be structured to allow for pensions to invest in the less riskier parts of projects that “offer a reliable income stream”, which seems to suggest pensions would not be asked to shoulder construction risk.
 
The newspaper goes on to write that projects' “riskier parts […] might be assumed by the taxpayer or by banks and other private sector investors”.
 
Another key part of the government's plans to entice pensions will be the announcement of a long-term infrastructure plan that “will provide the regulatory certainty that pensions seek”.
 
The upcoming announcement is also set to include a list of priority infrastructure projects covering roads, rail, energy, waste treatment and social infrastructure.