Friday 5 September 2014

Highways Agency – Improvements to the Dartford Crossing

Remote payment is being introduced  by the Highways Agency at the Dartford Crossing from October 2014.

From October 2014, Highways Agency are changing the way you pay the Dartford Crossing charge. You will no longer pay at the barriers; instead you’ll be able to pay in advance, or before midnight the day after crossing. Drivers who don’t pay will face a penalty charge.

The new scheme is known as Dart Charge and will help to reduce congestion at the crossing.

It will still be free to use the crossing between 10pm and 6am.

How to pay

There will be lots of ways to pay:
  • with a pre-pay account
  • online
  • by text
  • at retail outlets
  • over the phone
  • by post

Pre-pay accounts

You will be able to save up to a third on every crossing by setting up a pre-pay account. Accounts can be topped up manually or you can set up auto top ups to come by direct debit, or from your debit or credit card whenever a set threshold is reached.

Your vehicle registration must be associated with your account and sufficient funds will need to be available to cover the crossing. You can allocate multiple vehicles to an account as long as you register each one.

Existing DART-Tag account holders

It will be easy for you to move to a new Dart Charge account. There’s no need to do anything yet.

The Highways Agency will contact you in September and October 2014 with details of how to move to the new account, so please make sure the contact information on your account is up-to-date.

You won’t lose any credit and remaining funds will be transferred or refunded.

Local residents

Local residents of Dartford and Thurrock will continue to be entitled to discounts on the road user charge.

Exemptions

Vehicles currently exempt from paying the crossing charge will continue to be exempt. This includes vehicles exempt from paying Vehicle Excise Duty because they are used by or for someone with a disability. The full list of exemptions is described in legislation.

The Highways Agency plans to put in place a process to enable automatic identification of exempt vehicles. So once your vehicle is registered as exempt with Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency you should not have to register again.

Mopeds, motorcycles, motor tricycles and quadricycles will also continue to use the crossing for free.

Non-UK (foreign) drivers

Non-UK users will be able to use the same payment channels. The automatic number plate recognition system will recognise non-UK vehicles and if there is any doubt number plates can be reviewed manually.

We recognise that no barrierless charging scheme is evasion free and that evasion will involve both UK and non-UK vehicles.

We are serious about tackling evasion and will use effective penalty and recovery processes. This includes a European debt recovery agency to support the recovery of outstanding charges. This approach has proven successful with similar schemes such as the London congestion charge.

Implementing Dart Charge

Implementing the new remote payment arrangements will require greater use of technology and substantial changes to the existing road layout at the crossing. These include:

  • provision of open traffic lanes in both directions
  • safe removal of plazas and barriers
  • new traffic control measures

The Highways Agency has started advance construction work at the crossing to prepare for the introduction of Dart Charge in October 2014. Once Dart Charge is introduced in October work will then begin to remove the payment booths and introduce the new road layout.

All work is being planned carefully to minimise disruption while ensuring the crossing remains safe for road users.

View full details of the scheme to introduce Dartford Crossing remote payment.

Background

The Dartford-Thurrock River Crossing (Dartford Crossing) spans the River Thames between Dartford and Thurrock, approximately 16 miles east of central London, and forms a trunk road link (the A282) in the M25 London orbital motorway.

Toll charges were levied at the Crossing until 2003 when the debts associated with the construction of the QEII bridge and the tunnels had been fully discharged. A Road User Charge was introduced in 2003 to manage the high demand for use of the Crossing. Parliament agreed the powers for the charging regime in the Transport Act 2000.

A number of road layout and charging configurations were considered during the development of the scheme including options that had a mixture of open and cash lanes. However, the assessment of options indicated that open traffic lanes in both directions would deliver the most significant benefit in terms of easing traffic flow and reduced delay, as well as removing the need for drivers to stop and pay the charge at a barrier.

The Dartford Crossing is a vital transport link and the introduction of Dart Charge is part of the government’s commitment to reduce congestion at this crucial gateway both now and in the future.

In the longer term, options for a third crossing are under consideration, and have been the subject of a Department for Transport (DfT) consultation.

Locations