Tolls to stay at Dartford Crossing

  • 80s Tory government policy to scrap toll to be axed
  • Congestion Charge-style payment system proposed 
  • Payments for the Dartford Crossing online or by text

The new coalition government is planning a U-turn on a previous Conservative government policy that planned to scrap tolls at the Dartford Crossing next year.

Currently drivers who use the crossing between 6am and 10pm pay tolls, which were due to be scrapped in 2011 when the £203 million bridge, which opened in 1991, had effectively paid for itself.

Each day around 150,000 vehicles pass through the crossing, which makes £40 million profit a year. Car drivers pay £1.50 to use it and it looks like the current government, unwilling to let go of its cash cow, will look at ways of cutting congestion at the booths instead.

One plan is to introduce a similar system used by Transport for London for the capital's Congestion Charge, where drivers pay online or by text on the day of use. This idea will mean the end for barriers at the toll booths and speed up traffic passing through.

At present the Congestion Charge allows motorists to pay up to 90 days in advance and it is likely that the Dartford Crossing would be set up in a similar way. If motorists fail to pay the London Congestion Charge they are sent a PCN (Penalty Charge Notice). This penalty is likely to apply to those who forget to pay for the Dartford Crossing if this scheme is brought to fruition.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Mike Penning, said: ''The £40 million that we recover from the Dartford Crossing is a significant income, but we need to consider technology that is being used in other parts of the world so that we can remove the barriers and increase the speed at which traffic comes through while also picking up the revenue that the country desperately needs.'

Picture by Dartford River Crossing: http://www.dartfordarchive.org.uk/technology/communication_drc.shtml