Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Only One Way to Avoid Tolls at M25 Dartford Crossing for Road Freight Haulage and Others

FTA 'Disappointed' So Sign Petition NOW
Shipping News Feature

UK – The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has voiced disappointment on behalf of its members at the news of the rise in charges to users of the Dartford River Crossing, a subject dear to the hearts of road haulage operators and private motorists alike. The e petition raised by one of the Handy Shipping Guide’s staff to protest against the tolls has now well over 6,000 signatures, more than 25 times the total of all the other e petitions on a similar subject combined! The chance is still there for you to protest if you feel strongly on this subject by voting via the link below.

Our article in November went into some detail on the subject and itself links to previous pieces regarding the imposition of road tolls including one in July which highlighted the comments of Minister Mike Penning who told parliament the barriers at the Thames Crossing would be lifted at time of congestion without mentioning he only considered it congestion if the queues extended for more than 12 MILES. Now the FTA has been quick to back its members in saying that it considers additional costs at the tolls to be unacceptable to the freight industry.

The first rise in costs to be implemented will be in October 2012 when the toll charge for a heavy goods vehicle will jump to £5.00 per crossing, a significant increase from the present £3.70, with the second hike planned for 2014, resulting in a cost of £6.00 each way. Operators who use the popular Dart-Tag system will not escape the price jump either, seeing that cost rising from £3.20 to £4.33 come October this year. Malcolm Bingham, FTA Head of Road Network Management Policy said:

“We are disappointed, as we feel that the government has not taken any notice of us at all. We had asked them to peg the Dart-Tag fee. Any toll increase is damaging to our members.”

Responding to the Department for Transport consultation on the proposals to revise the road user charging regime, FTA had voiced its concern at the planned rises, pointing out that:

“The Dartford crossing is an essential piece of infrastructure, vital to the effectiveness of the logistics industry for whom no efficient alternative route exists. Current levels of congestion, which we believe to a large extent result from the existing charging systems, impose significant costs on the industry and lead to increased emissions.”

Along with all the drivers we spoke to, and that means every single one of them, FTA members maintain that the charging plazas themselves cause the majority of the congestion at the crossing. According to FTA figures, at present it already costs an estimated £1 per minute per HGV to queue and pay at the Dartford tolls.

The FTA has said it had been hoped that plans to introduce a ‘free flowing system’ would be introduced as opposed to toll increases as once again pointed out in these pages, and these were welcomed by the association. The technological system (similar to some already being used across Europe and within the UK), was seen as the appropriate way forward to reduce a good deal of administration cost for industry in dealing with tolls, charges and queues at the crossing.

With popular opinion amongst both commercial vehicle drivers and private motorists that the Government is using the unavoidable bottleneck caused by the crossing as a cash cow you have the option of voicing your objection via the e petition to be found HERE. If enough sign up by August the Government is pledged to debate the matter in Parliament