Monday, December 01, 2014

All change for Dartford River Crossing tolls

One of the most congested bottlenecks on the M25 may become a little more free-flowing as it dispenses with physical toll booths in favour of an online payments system.

While the switch-over may not have come so smoothly as traffic was rerouted several miles whilst the toll booths were removed, first indications seemed to show that traffic was far less congested as vehicles crossed the Dartford River Crossing on Monday morning.

The new payment system at the Dartford Crossing came into force at 06:00 GMT, replacing the toll booths on the Kent side of the crossing. The current 27-lane system will be replaced by four express-ways in each direction and lanes to help turn away vehicles unsuitable for the tunnels.

Charging is enforced through the use of an Automatic Number Plate Recognition system which logs vehicle details with those which have paid. It is similar to a system already used to police London's Congestion Charge.

However, while congestion may have decreased, charges have increased overnight with car drivers now being charged £2.50, a hike of 50 pence.

The charge for goods two-axle heavy good vehicles including vans has risen by 50p to £3 whilst multi-axle good vehicles will now be charged £6, a rise of £1.

As an incentive to register with the Dartford River Crossing website, drivers using a pre-paid account will save up to one third. Motorists can also pay at some newsagents or through a dedicated telephone service.

However, those who don't pay are liable to receive a hefty penalty. Anyone not having paid by midnight on the day after making a crossing will receive a penalty charge of £70 which must be paid within 28 days. It's reduced to £35 if paid within 14 days and increased to £105 if unpaid.

There is some concern that foreign drivers will escape being charged, though the Highways Agency says it has plans in place to chase up people in other countries.

There has also been some worries expressed by some motorists who have said they have had difficulty registering on the Dartford Crossing website. Others have said the new system assumed all motorists have Internet access. Indeed, whilst there are other ways to pay the toll, finding information without Internet access is difficult.

The news Dartford Crossing toll changes came into force on the same day the government announced a £15 billion investment in England's road network [BBC / Sky News].

For those using the river crossing payments can be made by one of several methods

Alternatively, motorists can set up a pre-pay account now and receive savings of up to one-third on every crossing made during the charging hours [06:00 – 22:00]  [BBC]

tvnewswatch, London, UK

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