The M6 toll road owner plunged deeper into the red last year, with its most recent accounts revealing a £42m pre-tax loss.

Midland Expressway’s (MEL) turnover dropped by £38m to £51.3m in the year ending 31 December 2020 as traffic on the 27-mile toll road plummeted by 45% due to pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions.

MEL said Covid-19 has had a “profound impact” on the company but that despite this, traffic volumes responded positively to the easing of restrictions.

The results came after the M6toll commissioned a report showing how the road provides a “£400m boost” to the local economy.

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The study, carried out by consultants at Vivid Economics, said the multi-million-pound boost was based on its ability to increase capacity and connectivity and was a major catalyst for investment from firms.

Vivid Economics also said that the private motorway helped increase wages by 1.4% and generated a 10-15-minute journey time saving compared to using local A roads such as the A5 and A38.

Andy Cliffe, M6toll CE, said the report “acknowledges M6toll’s role in reducing congestion, taking HGV vehicles off local routes and encouraging more local leisure journeys, all of which form part of MEL’s strategic vision for the road.”

Earlier this year, Maritime Transport said it had become the first firm to trial the toll road’s new ANPR-based charging system, designed to drive growth on the motorway.