No plans to stop Dartford Crossing charges

Published: 24 January 2019

No plans to stop Dartford Crossing charges
The Government has gone on record stating that there are currently no plans to end charges for the Dartford Crossing following public outcry and a petition to make the crossing free of charge as originally promised gained over 27,000 signatures from road users.

The email response for the petition was as follows: "Government has no plans to remove the road user charge at the Dartford Crossing which exists to manage demand. Without charges, traffic volumes would increase and additional congestion would occur. The Dartford charge is not a toll for to pay for the infrastructure but a charge the Government has set at levels which manage demand.”

"The Crossing was designed to handle up to 135,000 vehicle movements each day, but currently it is not uncommon for 160,000 to occur. Research undertaken in 2001 into the impacts of lifting the tolls indicated that traffic volumes could rise by 17%.”

"However, the charge levels and concessions available also take account of local peoples’ need to use the Crossing in their daily lives. There are discounts of up to 20 per cent for those who chose to maintain a pre-paid account. In addition, residents of the boroughs of Dartford and Thurrock can make up to 50 or unlimited crossings for different minimum fees. There is no charge for the hours of 22h00 to 06h00.”
"The standard charges have not increased since they were last revised with the introduction of the Dartford Free Flow Charging Scheme in 2014, an investment which has improved the road user experience by removing the need for users to stop at barriers to pay the charges.”

"The Government is investing in the new Lower Thames Crossing will connect Kent and Essex through a tunnel beneath the River Thames and high quality road connections between important existing routes A2, M25 and A13. This addresses the demands for road capacity of an expanding economy by doubling cross river road capacity in the Thames east of London.”

"To improve the situation over the next few years at the Dartford Thurrock Crossing and surrounding roads, the Department for Transport (DfT)is investing £10 million to contribute to a wider package of interventions to reduce congestion through traffic flow and safety measures. This investment is aimed at improving traffic flow at individual junctions; enhancing weather resilience; and better management of dangerous goods and over-height vehicles. Highways England continues to look for ways to improve performance and reduce congestion at the Crossing."

One of the many users of the crossing frustrated by the government’s response to the petition, Andy Dobson uses the Crossing as a means to travel from Kent to Sheffield at the weekends. He feels that the charge remaining in place would be completely unjustified as the dart charge is now paid online and the tolls rarely effect congestion on the crossing.

Working as a plasterer and often relying on the crossing to get to Sheffield at the weekends, Andy shared his own opinion on the matter: "I think it's a joke to be honest, if the reasons they gave were valid then they would surely be putting the price up to ease congestion and traffic flows, so it seems like another excuse to try and justify the charges.

"I only use it at weekends when I travel down to Maidstone and then back home to Sheffield.
"I do have an account with them and they increased the charge for my car in October, but the price for my works van has stayed the same."

While costs for larger vehicles have stayed firmly in place, many are frustrated that they were ever charged to use the crossing in the first place. With future plans involving a new Crossing further down the Thames, many are curious as to how this will effect the Government’s plans for the Dartford Crossing in the future.
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