Highways England collected more than £43m in revenue from the Dartford Crossing in the five months since the new Dart Charge payment system was introduced.

According to a Freedom of Information request, the Government-owned organisation pulled in £43.6m between 30 November and 30 April.

There are no toll booths on the crossing, having been phased out in November last year, meaning motorists can pay only the crossing fee (a maximum of £2.50 for a single car journey) if they have a Dart Charge, pre-paid, online account, or pay online, by phone, text or at a Payzone shop after using the crossing.

The Dart Charge system uses automatic number plate recognition technology to track vehicle numbers plates and then administer a charge, or fine, to that vehicle.

Debts from the construction of the crossing were paid off in 2002.

According to the FoI request, 13,993,470 vehicles used the crossing during the charging hours between 30/11/2014 and 31/03/2015, with 12,836,511 paying the charge.

More than 350,000 (357,162) users were issued with fixed penalty notices for not paying the charge.
Based on the standard Dartford Crossing penalty charge of £70, which must be paid within 28 days, it means the Government body might have collected as much as £25m in fines.

If paid within 14 days, the fine drops to £35, while if the fine isn’t paid within the 28-day window it rises to £105. The limit for paying after a journey is set at midnight on the day after travel.

A Highways England spokesman told BusinessCar that it is “doing everything it can to help people avoid paying the penalty”.

“On the first offence, per vehicle, we will send a warning letter giving drivers an extra 14 days to pay the original crossing charge,” he added.

All revenue from the crossing is passed to the Treasury, and the money has to be spent on transport improvements, the spokesman told BusinessCar.