Severn crossing

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Map showing the Severn road and rail crossings, the Severn Bridge (top right), Severn Tunnel and Prince of Wales Bridge (Second Severn Crossing) (bottom left)
Aerial view of both Severn bridges. The older Severn Bridge is in the foreground and the newer Prince of Wales Bridge in the background.

Severn crossing is a term used to refer to the two motorway crossings over the River Severn estuary between England and Wales operated by Highways England. The two crossings are:

The first motorway suspension bridge was inaugurated on 8 September 1966, and the newer cable-stayed bridge, a few miles to the south, was inaugurated on 5 June 1996. The Prince of Wales Bridge (Second Severn Crossing) marks the upper limit of the Severn Estuary. From 1966 to 1996, the bridge carried the M4 motorway. On completion of the Second Severn crossing the motorway from Aust on the English side to Chepstow was renamed the M48. The Second Severn Crossing was officially renamed the Prince of Wales Bridge on 2 July 2018.

The two Severn crossings are regarded as the main crossing points from England into South Wales. Prior to 1966 road traffic between the southern counties of Wales and the southern counties of England either had to travel via Gloucester or take the Aust Ferry, which ran roughly along the line of the Severn Bridge, from Old Passage near Aust to Beachley. The ferry ramps at Old Passage and Beachley are still visible.

Tolls are collected on both crossings from vehicles travelling in a westward direction only. As of January 2018, the toll for small vehicles is £5.60. The Severn Crossing reverted to public ownership on 8 January 2018, run by Highways England. Tolls will be scrapped on 17 December 2018.[1]

Railway crossings[edit]

The Severn Tunnel, carrying mainline trains under the Severn along the South Wales Main Line has been followed in its original route by the Second Severn Crossing.

From 1879 until its collapse in 1960 the Severn Railway Bridge also carried trains across the Severn from Sharpness to Lydney.


A proposed Severn Barrage could constitute a third crossing if one is ever built. It has been suggested[who?] that such a crossing could carry a road crossing. Until recently, a rail link over a barrage had been ruled out because it would contain a huge set of shipping locks that the rails would need to traverse. It has since been suggested that a rail bridge could carry smaller, modern trains over the locks, so a rail link is possible.

However, a report by the Department of Transport as part of the 2008–2010 Severn Tidal Power feasibility study carried out by the Department for Energy and Climate Change, concluded that there was not any current need for new transport links, either by road or rail. Given that the UK Government opted not to pursue a tidal scheme in the Severn Estuary following the completion of the feasibility study, the chances of a third crossing anytime in the near future seem doubtful.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Severn tolls to be axed earlier than planned on 17 December". BBC News Online. 2018-10-02. Retrieved 2018-10-02.

External links[edit]