Motorists could soon pay to drive on motorway hard shoulders in a bid to ease congestion, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph.
The proposal is part of a range of plans that have been fast-tracked by ministers for a review of the road and rail network to be published next year.
Other proposals being considered include:
Building toll lanes rather than using existing hard shoulders
Opening hard shoulders to all motorists, free of charge, at peak times
Introducing variable speed limit schemes
Variable speed limits and allowing drivers to use the hard shoulder during peak times have been tested in a trial on a section of the M42 near Birmingham, and the Government seems keen to expand the schemes to more motorways.
'We think this is capable of a radical extension,' said roads minister Lord Adonis. 'I was extremely impressed by how it reduced congestion, improved road safety and reduced journey times.'
Should the Government adopt a road-charging scheme, it would be likely to use a system where cars would be fitted with a transponder that is linked to a payment account.
Money would be deducted every time the vehicle passed under an overhead gantry located within the scheme.