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Dartford Tunnel

Volume 403: debated on Monday 7 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what plans the Government has to refurbish the Dartford Tunnel; [107587](2) if he will make a statement on the condition of the Dartford Tunnel. [107586]

I have asked the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, Mr. Tim Matthews, to reply to the hon. Member.

Letter from David York to Mr. Christopher Chope, dated 7 April 2003:

Tim Matthews has been asked by David Jamieson to reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions about the condition and refurbishment of the Dartford Tunnel. I am replying as Tim is currently away on Highway Agency business.

The Tunnels at the Dartford Thurrock Crossing were opened in 1963 and 1980 and were constructed to the standards applicable at the time. Standards are constantly reviewed and improvements to the tunnels are carried out where it is considered appropriate and practical to do so, but the Tunnels at Dartford cannot meet all of the latest standards applicable throughout Europe.

Both the tunnels at the Dartford Thurrock Crossing were recently refurbished. This work included the construction of new road decks. All improvement works identified by the regular inspection regime were carried out to ensure that the tunnels were in very good condition when the Dartford River Crossings concession ended a few days ago.

The Highways Agency has plans to install an automatic fire detection system this year to supplement the 24-hour CCTV surveillance and manual fire alarm system already in place. Further improvement are being considered.

If you would like further information about this matter, you may wish to contact Steve Ashley in the Agency's Dorking office on 10306 878254.