Information regarding the new Dartford crossing has finally been released, informing drivers exactly what they need to do to stay within the new regulations.
The Thames crossing is to have a new barrier payment system put in place known as Dart Charge, which will replace the current toll-booth payment process. Originally, the details of the scheme were set to be announced in October. However, the Highways Agency responsible delayed the release of the information.
The new scheme will now go live on 30th November. The free flow tolling has been brought in to try and reduce overall congestion and ease traffic flow, with drivers no longer having to stop at the barriers. Instead, motorists will be able to pay their fees in advance online, by phone, by post or at thousands of retail outlets around the UK.
However, there are concerns that awareness of the change isn’t high enough. A survey sent out by the AA ahead of the new launch found that up to 85 per cent of those surveyed were unaware that the new system would require them to pay online or by phone.
This could cause millions of UK motorists get hit with fines. It’s estimated that the crossing is currently used by 170,000 motorists every single day.
Fines for incorrect crossings will then rise to as high as £105, with cameras snapping the car number plats in both the two northbound tunnels and over the southbound bridge. If drivers fail to pay the fines by midnight on the same day that they use the crossing, they will automatically be fined £35, which will increase to £70 within 14 days.
A spokesperson for the Highways Agency said that they were hoping for full compliance, but did estimate that around seven per cent of drivers would probably be fined overall, amounting to 3.5 million people or so.
The spokesperson also said that it had been running an activity since April in order to inform motorists of the new changes, and that 50,000 people had already signed up to the emails.
The new charges will be as follows:
- Cars £2.50
- 2 axle goods £3.00
- Multi-axle goods £6.00
The crossing will continue to be free between 10pm and 6am, with the last toll booth payment being taken on 29th November.
There are a number of different ways in which you can pay:
- Online using the government gateway at www.gov.uk/dart-charge
- By calling the government hotline at 0300 300 0120
- Via using a Payzone retail outlet
- By post (but only in advance), with payment sent to Dart Charge Customer Service PO BOX 842 Leeds LS1 9QF
The highways agency are also planned to carry out some work on the Kent Marshalling Area (the KMA) – the holding area in which abnormal loads or vehicles carrying dangerous goods are checked before making the crossing.