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Driver rip-off as toll chiefs won't cut fees

MOTORISTS are being ripped off at toll roads across the country as four operators have refused to cut their charges in January.

Toll operators are required by law to reduce their charges if the consumer price index drops over 12 months.

However, just one toll company has slashed the fee, which is required under the tolling bylaw, the National Roads Authority (NRA).

Spokesman for the NRA, Sean O'Neill, said it is prepared to take court action against the operators who are holding out.

But operators are claiming a different interpretation of the bylaws and while not all tolled routes are subject to this agreement, the NRA has directed five toll operators to reduce their charges for 2011.

"It is our position that as of January 2011, five tolling operators were required to lower their tolls to comply with the tolling bylaws," the NRA said in a statement.

"These are the M1-Dundalk, M4-Kilcock/Kinnegad, M6 Galway/Ballinasloe, M8-Fermoy and N25-Waterford city bypass.

"To date, only one toll operator, the M6 Galway/Ballinasloe, has lowered its tolls €1.90 to €1.80 for a car," it added.


Chairman of the Irish Drivers' Association John Lernihan is advocating that motorists boycott the routes if possible.

"We don't agree with the tolls in the first place ... I hope the NRA can get clarification of the matter as soon as possible," he said.

The authority said the routes not the subject of disagreement include the M3 Clonee-Kells, M7/M8 Portlaoise bypass, the Limerick Tunnel and M50 eFlow.

The NRA will now be seeking legal clarity on the matter.

Just last year the NRA defended the disparity in the toll prices which vary across the country.

In Co Westmeath a fee of €2.90 applies for passenger cars on the 39km Kilcock to Kinnegad section of the M4 but, further west on the much-less trafficked Ballinasloe to Galway M6, a smaller toll of just €1.90 applies for a 56km stretch.

The NRA said the tolling arrangements were made up of a number of variable elements and were essentially not comparable to each other.