There’s concern that they could be exploiting motorists and pose a huge safety risk
Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, believes the higher prices charged at motorway petrol stations across the country could pose a huge safety risk as motorists choose not to stop and fill up.
An investigation has been opened by the Transport Secretary following his concern that they could be exploiting motorists.
According to Mr Grayling, higher fuel prices discourage drivers from stopping to fill up which could pose a possible safety risk.
“I am writing to raise concerns and request that the CMA consider opening an investigation into the retail price at Motorway Service Areas (MSAs),” wrote Mr Grayling in a letter to Andrea Coscelli, head of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
Mr Grayling also added: “I am concerned that prices which are higher than other forecourts may exploit users in a situation where there is less choice and competition, and discourage motorists from stopping and re-fuelling when, for safety reasons, they should.”
The motorway service network is made up of 112 in total located up and down the country, with three dominant firms – Moto, Road Chef and Welcome Break.
“I would welcome a view from the CMA on whether the three private companies that currently operate the majority of MSAs are exercising market power to the detriment of motorists,” said Mr Grayling.
Currently the average price at a motorway service station is 137.7p for a litre of unleaded, whereas in comparison the nationwide average is 120.1p.
Mr Grayling has also drawn attention to the fact that back in 2011, figures from the RAC showed the difference between motorway and non-motorway prices was just 7.5p.
He understands that there’s higher operating costs to consider for motorway services compared to normal garages, however the price differentials at the moment were still not “fully explained”.
RAC’s fuel spokesman, Simon Williams, has said of Mr Grayling’s letter that it’s “great news for motorists”.
Mr Williams added that for a long time something has needed to be done about the sky-high prices charged at motorway service stations, with no justification for the prices they expect motorists to pay. As a result, when drivers stop to fill up at motorway services they tend to only put in a small amount, however this could backfire and cause motorists to run out of fuel and put lives at risk.
A Roadchef spokesperson told the BBC: “Roadchef does not operate the petrol station forecourts at any of our service areas and does not set the price of fuel.”
Meanwhile, on Moto’s website a statement said: “We operate in a very different environment to most other retailers and once you see the costs of providing the facilities and services, the prices soon start to make sense.”
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