The government has shelved national road pricing in favour of introducing car sharing and pay-as-you-drive lanes on motorways.
The decision marks a U-turn by Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly, who had previously been in favour of charging motorists around £1.30 for each mile they drove on major roads.
Instead, Kelly has now declared that all new motorway lanes will be considered for high occupancy vehicle schemes, toll charging and other congestion relief programmes.
Explaining her change of plan, Kelly said: 'We have been trapped in this sterile debate about road pricing. There are real, practical things we can do today to tackle congestion.'
She added that national road pricing raised concerns over privacy that had not been answered.
Under the new plans, motorists will have the option of paying to use a lane on new motorways, or travelling without charge in the other lanes.
Kelly confirmed that a trial scheme to convert the hard shoulder on a stretch of the M42 into an extra lane would be rolled out to other motorways by 2010.
Plans to build an extra lane on the northbound M1 between the east Midlands and Leeds will be abandoned in favour of using the hard shoulder.
The Department for Transport believes there are 500 miles of motorways in England that would benefit from opening up the hard shoulder to traffic at peak times. These include stretches of the M6, M62, M27, M4, M5 and motorways which feed into the M25, such as the M20 and M3.
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