Drivers face new charges to use London tunnels

UK

Car drivers using two tunnels in east London will be charged up to £4 a time from next year under new proposals.

The charge will apply to anyone using a car in the Blackwall and Silvertown tunnels during peak hours under Transport for London (TfL) plans.

Peak hours are weekdays going northbound between 6am and 10am or southbound from 4pm until 7pm.

TfL, which has launched an eight-week consultation on the level of charges, plans to reduce the fee to £1.50 for anyone using Auto Pay, its automated charging system, outside peak times.

But if drivers use other payment methods outside peak hours, it will be £4 per trip.

Depending on the time of day and payment method, the planned fees are £2.50 and £1.50 for both motorbikes and mopeds, £6.50 and £2.50 for large vans, and £10 and £5 for heavy goods vehicles.

Anyone failing to pay will face a £180 fine.

In a statement announcing the proposals, TfL said the overall charging period for the tunnels will be 6am to 10pm, but it will be free to use overnight.

Buses, coaches, black taxis, blue badge holders registered in the capital, and zero-emission capable private hire vehicles will all be exempt and there are discounts for those on low incomes as well as some small businesses, sole traders and charities.

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Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said residents and business owners currently face “chronic congestion and pollution” around the Blackwall Tunnel, while the Silvertown tunnel “will help deliver quicker, more reliable journeys in east London by easing congestion and making journeys up to 20 minutes faster”.

TfL director of strategy Christina Calderato said: “Without introducing tunnel user charges for the Silvertown and Blackwall tunnels, there would likely be high levels of traffic and congestion, which would lead to detrimental air quality impacts, as well as longer journey times.”

Mr Khan expanded the ultra low emission zone (Ulez) to cover the whole of London in August last year.

The scheme means people who drive in the area must pay a £12.50 daily fee if their vehicle does not meet minimum emissions standards.

The Silvertown Tunnel, which is expected to be completed next spring, connects Silvertown with Greenwich Peninsula and is designed to reduce severe congestion at the nearby Blackwall Tunnel, which is currently free to use.

Climate activists have expressed concern about the new crossing’s impact on traffic and air pollution.

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