THE TUNNEL tolls are rising again.

From April 6, car drivers will be charged £1.40 per journey through either the Kingsway or Queensway tunnels - a rise of 10p.

But class 2 vehicles - including minibuses and small goods vehicles - are being hit far harder.

The toll from April for drivers of those vehicles will leap from £1.30 to £2.80 per journey.

Buses and vehicles weighing more than 3.5 tonnes go up to £4.20 from £3.90.

And HGVs will incur a 40p rise to £5.60 per journey.

Merseytravel board members will rubber-stamp the increases when they meet on Monday.

Ironically, exactly a week later - on February 11 - Scotland's road crossings will become completely toll-free.

The Mersey Tunnels increases are expected to raise an extra £3.6m profit which will be channelled towards other Merseytravel schemes across Merseyside.

Merseytravel claims that the increases will discourage people from using the tunnels as a cheap alternative to public transport, thus causing less environment damage.

John McGoldrick, secretary of the Mersey Tunnel Users' Association, said: "This is absolutely outrageous.

"Yet again the motorist is being hit in the pocket and yet again Merseytravel are fudging the issue.

"These increases aren't going towards paying off the debt of the tunnels, which was the whole reason for the tolls in the first place. They are purely for making a profit.

"Most people who use the tunnels do so because they have to. Not everyone is on a bus route or near a train station, no matter how much Merseytravel would like everyone to believe.

"Wirral motorists are completely ignored on this issue. It is scandalous."

Cllr. Chris Blakeley, (Wirral's Conservative representative on Merseytravel) said: "At a time of rising household bills and Council Tax, regular tunnel users will have to fork out around £50 more every year for the privilege of subsidising public transport elsewhere in Merseyside.

"The Mersey Tunnels Bill, which was pushed through by Labour MPs, is now coming back to haunt us.

"Merseytravel has not proposed any improvements in Wirral with the extra money this cash will raise. Once again, we are seeing Wirral residents who have the misfortune to work in Liverpool being hit with a tax hike. It is time that Merseytravel and the Government followed the example of the Scottish Executive and placed both tunnels within the national road network, free of tolls.

"I will not be supporting this rise."