Page last updated at 14:16 GMT, Friday, 28 August 2009 15:16 UK

Congestion claim over toll charge

Toll booths at Dartford Crossing
Daytime charges were increased at the Dartford Crossing last November

Higher toll charges at the Dartford Crossing across the Thames between Kent and Essex have led to increased congestion, the AA has said.

The motoring organisation said there were noticeably more delays on the M25 since the charge was raised from £1 to £1.50 for cars nearly a year ago.

Paul Watters, its head of roads and transport policy, said a "sensible solution" would be to go back to £1.

"We also need to look at whether we can remove the toll southbound," he added.

Daytime charges

"There are some issues about safety and the lane switching at the end of the bridge and you obviously have to adjust the tolls northbound.

"That has been thought of and I think it's still being looked at," Mr Watters said.

Everyone apart from the government knows that the congestion at Dartford is due to traffic slowing and stopping for the tolls
John McGoldrick, National Alliance Against Tolls

But transport minister and Gillingham MP, Paul Clark, said if there were no tolls the volume of traffic would increase by as much as 17%.

"There is a disincentive by not using the crossing because there is a charge," he said.

The rise in daytime charges, in which lorries are charged £2 or £3.70 depending on their size, was introduced last November.

John McGoldrick from the National Alliance Against Tolls said: "Everyone apart from the government knows that the congestion at Dartford is due to traffic slowing and stopping for the tolls.

"The Dartford tolls were supposed to have been removed in 2002 when the construction costs were paid off. By keeping them the Government has added to congestion, damaged the economy and increased pollution due to traffic queues."

There is no charge to use the Dartford Tunnel and QEII bridge at night, between 2200 and 0600.



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