Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dartford crossing charges to rise

Motoring organisations have criticised proposed hikes of toll charges at the Dartford River Crossing which would see car drivers paying £2.00 in 2011 with a further rise to £2.50 by 2012. The increased tolls are part of the government spending review which was drafted to tackle Britain's deficit [BBC].

The Department of Transport (DfT) said the money would be used to explore ways of improving traffic flow. But RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister said motorists would be "very nervous" at the proposals.

John Kent, a Thurrock councillor said the rise would hit Essex motorists hard describing the proposed charge as a "huge increase" and a "hammer blow". Motorists have been even more scathing. Many are angry and say that the bridge and tunnels have already been paid for and that increasing tolls is punitive. "What they don't take into account is the lost meetings, missed flights and massive queues," Peter from Colchester told BBC Essex.

The government say there will be a consultation process, but this was dismissed by many callers to the radio station. "They've already made up their minds," one listener said. Others were resigned to further price rises but called for a better way at collecting money from motorists, such as online registration.

The Dartford Tunnel and Queen Elizabeth II bridge cross the River Thames between Dartford and Thurrock. The crossing forms a link in the M25 motorway and carries about 150,000 vehicles a day. Queues often stretch for many miles at the crossing especially at peak travel times, mostly due to the slowing of vehicles as they stop to pay the toll.

In November 2008, motorists protested when the charge was increased from £1 to £1.50 for cars. At the same time the toll fee was dropped for vehicles travelling between 22:00 and 06:00. It is unclear how much lorry tolls will rise by. Currently they stand at £3.70 per lorry [BBC].

tvnewswatch, London, UK

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