Friday, June 12, 2015

M25 Drivers be Warned - New Dartford Tunnel Rules May Affect Road Haulage Freight Vehicles

Licences Could be Endorsed and Fines Incurred by Those Who Fail to Follow Procedure
Shipping News Feature

UK – The Freight Transport Association (FTA) is telling road haulage operators to be aware of changes to the M25 Dartford Tunnel approach that come into force this weekend. Following the introduction of Dart Charge in November, a new traffic safety system has been put in place to identify oversized vehicles and those carrying hazardous goods. Traffic lights and automatic barriers will stop lorries continuing through the tunnel in the wrong lane and drivers face fines and potential points on their licence if they don’t comply with the restrictions.

The changes are designed to keep traffic flowing through the tunnel and reduce disruption for motorists. Previously all vehicles were held at the toll booths while an over height vehicle or *ADR carrier was re-routed. Vehicles 4.8 metres high or less can travel in any lane but those above 4.8 metres must approach in the two right-hand lanes after junction 1a to travel through the higher East Bore tunnel. Lorries over 5 metres are too tall for either tunnel and must leave at junction 1a. HGVs found to be in the wrong lane will be stopped by a red traffic light and barrier system and turned back to junction 1b. Natalie Chapman, FTA’s Head of Policy for London, said:

“The new road lay-out could lead to confusion, and drivers who fail to follow the signs face penalties, so we are encouraging our members to updates their staff on the new regulations. If there’s a long queue they will find themselves at the back again so they need to make sure they are in the correct lane.

“The new free-flow system at the tunnel is already showing benefits, queueing to pay at the booths was the major cause of congestion at the crossing so anything that eases the problem is welcome. However, it’s estimated that congestion will be back to the pre Dart Charge level by 2020 so we would urge the government to make a decision on a much needed new Lower Thames crossing as soon as possible.”

It is interesting to note that the authorities feel it is in their remit to punish drivers who fail to understand the new rules. Passage at this point on the River Thames was always sold to the public in the 1960's as a self-financing scheme which, when paid for, would mean no further tolls. When we at the Handy Shipping Guide have asked transport ministers about this they have always managed to avoid answering the question.

Photo: Lorry accidents, like this one last July, can cause chaos on Britain’s busiest motorway.

* Accord européen relatif au transport international des marchandises Dangereuses par Route (European Carriageof Dangerous Goods).