Motorists can travel for free for the first time in 52 years on the two Severn bridges as the tolls are scrapped from Monday.

The abolition comes as thousands of people are expected to make their journeys home for the festive period.

Charges on the original Severn Crossing have been in place since 1966, when the fee stood at two shillings and sixpence – the equivalent of 12.5p in decimal currency today.

They were then introduced on the second crossing – renamed the Prince of Wales Bridge in April this year – when it opened 30 years later in 1996.

The current fee for a car crossing from England into South Wales is £5.60, and regular commuters are expected to save more than £1,400 a year.

The tolls were reduced on New Year’s Day 2018 after the bridges were returned to public ownership, but the Government resisted calls to immediately abolish crossing fees.

The Government said scrapping of the tolls would provide an immediate benefit of over £100 million per year for Wales, and over a billion pounds of economic benefit over the next decade.

Businesses will also benefit from strengthened links between communities ranging from west Wales to the south west of England by making it easier for consumers and employees to cross the border.

Severn crossing tolls
Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said scrapping the tolls would see regular commuters save £1,400 per year (Ben Birchall/PA)

The final driver to pay to cross over from England to Wales on Sunday was Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns.

“The end of the tolls is a major milestone for the economies of south Wales and south west of England, and will remove historic barriers between communities,” Mr Cairns said.

“Scrapping the tolls means an end to generations of people paying to simply cross the border and delivering this has been one of my key aims as Welsh Secretary.

“A week before Christmas drivers will no longer have to pay every time they cross the border, meaning more money in their pockets, helping them with the cost of living and leaving them with and more cash to spend in their local areas.”

Chris Graying, Secretary of State for Transport, added: “We made a commitment in the manifesto to deliver free crossings over the Severn and that’s exactly what we’re delivering.

“This move will put £1,400 a year in the pockets of thousands of hard-working motorists and help transform the economy in the south west and South Wales creating new opportunities and helping drive future growth.”

Earlier this year, more than 30,000 people signed a petition against the Second Severn Crossing being renamed after the Prince of Wales.

The new title, which has the agreement of the Queen and Prime Minister Theresa May, was to recognise Charles’ 70th birthday year and 60 years since he became the Prince of Wales.