Speed limit increase for truckies on WestConnex, but toll system ‘out of control’

Truckies will be allowed to travel at 90km/h – up from 80km/h – on the WestConnex in Sydney from April 20, but the productivity increases come at a price, reveals a damning new tolls report.

According to the interim findings from a comprehensive tolls review, due out today, Sydney drivers will fork out $195 billion in tolls over the next 37 years, with truckies paying significantly more than motorists for each trip.

WestConnex accounts for about 52 per cent of that figure. Drivers on the M4 will be hit the hardest, paying WestConnex $24.6 billion in tolls over that period.

Report author Allan Fels, the former competition chief, said users will be paying for the cost of the WestConnex scheme three-times over in tolls.

TWU NSW/QLD state secretary Richard Olsen said the tolling system has spiralled out of control, placing an “unbearable burden” on transport workers.

“It has become highway robbery for transport workers,” Olsen said.

“It’s high time for major reforms that prioritise the livelihoods of owner-drivers over corporate profits. The New South Wales government must step up and take decisive action to rein in the exorbitant toll costs.

“The current trajectory is unsustainable and unjust and the tolling companies’ exploitation of drivers must end. We demand immediate action to overhaul the system and better the well-being of transport workers.”

Fels’ report comes only a month after Transurban’s reported a net profit of $230 million in the six months leading up to December 31.

NSW Roads Minister John Graham said the next step would be to get a better deal for all road users.

He said the interim report confirmed that toll contracts were designed with “guaranteed financial returns to their owners and operators as top of mind”.

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