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Dartford-Thurrock Crossing: Tolls

Volume 496: debated on Wednesday 16 September 2009

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport whether he has made an assessment of the effect on journey times, congestion and pollution at the Dartford River Crossing of the suspension of the tolls in July 2009; and if he will make a statement. (291353)

The charges were suspended on 21 July 2009 for about six hours between the busy rush hour periods due to the failure of the crossing's standby generator during the power cut. As the traffic counting systems also failed we have no measure of the traffic flows but staff on site reported light flows below normal expected levels. The operator considered that flows in the area were lighter because a significant part of the local network including shopping centres and businesses did not have power to operate.

There was some congestion around 10.30am as the systems failed and the operator switched to manual charge collection.

The crossing was operated manually with staff placed in each lane to control traffic and the additional staffing helped to ensure that there were no significant incidents that would have disrupted traffic in the toll plazas.

The effect on journey times, congestion and pollution cannot be measured but the light traffic levels combined with additional staffing levels operating the crossing appears to have avoided significant delays and stationary traffic.