The Dartford Crossing
The Dartford Crossing, a bit of history.
The Dartford crossing consists of two bored tunnels and a cable stayed bridge named the Queen Elizabeth 11 Bridge. The crossing was constructed in stages, in 1963 the west tunnel first opened, in 1980 the east tunnel was opened and in 1991 we saw the opening of the bridge. The tunnels are used for north bound traffic and the bridge for southbound traffic and is the only fixed road crossing of the Thames east of London and is the busiest estuarial crossing in the UK. It is estimated that 152,865 drivers use the Dartford Crossing daily, this is evident in ‘rush hour’ when find yourself sitting in traffic, although this has slightly subsided since the the ‘Dart Charge’ was brought in November 2014.
Paying to cross
The initial payments for the Crossing was in a way of a toll to re coupe the cost of the construction of the crossing. In February 1999 the government announced that the Dartford Crossing would be free of toll charges by the end of 2003, however in 2001 they pulled out of the agreement. In April 2003 the toll became a charge and in 2008 the introduction of free crossing time was introduced between the hours of 10pm and 6am. It was also in 2008 that a local scheme was introduced giving 50 free crossings to cars for an annual fee of £10, with any addition crossings charged at 20p. The local scheme was again updated in 2014 extending to privately owned 2 axel vehicles and unlimited car crossing for £20 per year. It is thought that around 44,000 drivers take advantage of the local scheme each year. In November 2014 the Dart Charge was introduced an automated number plate recognition system, this replaced the sometimes timely toll booths.
Making even more money through fines The Dart Charge system allows you to pay online and this payment must be made “You must pay the Dartford Crossing charge by midnight the day after you cross.” The crossing gets almost half of its income from fines, last year a total of £92million, however £42million of those fines were written off by Highways England.
Going back in time to the original tunnel idea
The idea for a tunnel crossing was first proposed back in 1924 between Tilbury and Gravesend, which would replace the ferry service, this was rejected and the more favored crossing near to Dartford was agreed. However this crossing location has arose again and in April 2017 the Secretary of State for Transport announced the preferred route for the Lower Thames Crossing will be between Gravesend and Tilbury. The extra crossing has come about to help ease congestion at the Dartford Crossing, this again will be a bored tunnel crossing under the River Thames.
Leasing and Dartford Crossing Fines If you are leasing a vehicle you must remember to pay the Dart charge, although you are not the owner of the vehicle you are still responsible for any fines incurred whilst driving. Any fines received will be forwarded on to the person responsible on the leasing contract.