The Dart Charge Crossing explained
28 October 2014
Author: Daniel Puddicombe
The Highways Agency has released images showing how the Dartford Crossing will look once the toll booths have been removed.
The tool booths are due to be removed in late November to coincide with the Dart Charge payment system going live.
The current 27-lane 'payment plaza' will be replaced by four lanes in each direction, while the approach to the tunnel will have extra lanes to identity and turn away prohibited vehicles from the tunnels.
The 27-lane payment plaza will be replaced by four open lanes in each.
Work to remove the payment booths will coincide with Dart Charge going live in late November, and is expected to be complete next spring.
"It's only when the booths have been removed that the full benefits of Dart Charge will be felt, and we will get underway on this work at the same time that the new payment arrangements begin,"Nigel Gray, Dart Charge project director, said:
"It's complicated work - especially on the northbound carriageway, where we need to protect the tunnels - one of which was built in the 1960s and has a lower height restriction - from over-height vehicles. We'll be completely redesigning the approach to the tunnels to detect and turn around these vehicles and other vehicles not suitable for the tunnels, using a system of signals, barriers and extra lanes, while keeping all other traffic flowing as much as possible," said Gray.
The Dart Charge system will use automatic number plate recognition technology (APNR) to pick up vehicle numbers plates and then administer a charge to that vehicle.
When the system is fully implemented motorists can pay online, by phone, text or at a payzone shop - similar to how an Oyster card is topped up - to pay for the crossing charges.
Removing the barriers is expected to reduce congestion, which forms as cars queue to pay at the barriers.
The DfT also released a list of frequently asked questions and answers for drivers to help them understand the changes.
Q How will I be able to pay the Crossing charge?
A You will be able to pay online, by phone or by post, or at one of thousands of Payzone terminals at shops nationwide. You can pay up to a year in advance, or by midnight on the day after your journey.
Q Do current discounts and exemptions still apply?
A Yes, exemptions and discounts will still apply:
- Where vehicles are currently legally exempt from paying the Crossing charge, these exemptions will continue. This includes vehicles exempt from paying Vehicle Excise Duty (VED). Blue badge holders are not exempt; the vehicle itself must be registered as exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty (VED).
- Residents of the boroughs of Dartford and Thurrock will continue to be entitled to discounts on the road user charge, through the Local Residents' Discount Scheme
- Everyone will be able to benefit from a discount in the Crossing charge by setting up a Dart Charge pre-pay account and keep it in credit -you can save up to one-third on each crossing.
- Mopeds, motorcycles, motor tricycles and quadricycles (quad bikes) will still be permitted to use the Crossing for free
Q What happens if I don't pay?
A If you don't pay for your crossing by midnight the day after your journey, you will be issued with a penalty charge notice. This is £70, but reduced to £35 if you pay within 14 days.
If the penalty charge is not paid within 28 days it will increase to £105. Enforcement arrangements are in place across all of Europe allowing the DfT to enforce the charge both in the UK and abroad.
Q I'm worried that I won't be ready for the change - what do I need to do?
A If you sign up for updates at https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/highways-agency the DfT will keep you informed at every step of the way.