Monday, July 15, 2024

Here’s how you can avoid paying Sadiq Khan’s £4 Blackwall and Silvertown tunnel toll

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But is there a way for drivers to avoid the £4 peak hour charge? Here’s all you need to know about Mayor Sadiq Khan’s latest road charge.

Where is the Silvertown tunnel?

The Silvertown tunnel is immediately east of the Blackwall tunnel in east London. It runs under the Thames, connecting the North Greenwich peninsula in south London with the Silvertown area just west of the Royal Docks in east London. Its southern end is immediately adjacent to the Blackwall tunnel while its northern end is only about 100 yards west of London mayor Sadiq Khan’s new City Hall.

How much will it cost to use the Silvertown tunnel?

There are three “price bands”. For most of the time between 6am and 10pm, car drivers will pay £1.50 per crossing. This applies seven days a week. But the charge increases to £4 for northbound journeys between 6am and 10am and southbound journeys 4pm to 7pm on weekdays. Between 10pm and 6am there is no charge.

What about the Blackwall tunnel?

The charges are exactly the same for the Blackwall tunnel as the Silvertown tunnel: £1.50 at most times, £4 during the two peak periods and free between 10pm and 6am.

How much will it cost for a “round trip” during peak hours?

It will cost £8 a day for drivers heading north through the Blackwall or Silvertown tunnel during the morning rush hour and south during the evening peak.

How does the toll compare to other road charges?

The Dartford crossing (on the M25) costs £2.50 per crossing for car drivers. The Ulez is £12.50 a day while the congestion charge is £15 – both for unlimited trips.

TfL

Why are the Blackwall and Silvertown tunnels being tolled?

The Silvertown tunnel was built using a PFI (private finance initiative) scheme – about £1bn for the construction of the tunnel and £1.2bn in loan repayments. Transport for London needs the income from the toll charges to repay its £2.2bn debt.

Why can’t Silvertown be tolled but not Blackwall?

TfL says that if charges were imposed only for one tunnel, then no drivers would use it – and all would continue to use the other (free) crossing. This would defeat the purpose of building Silvertown, which is to reduce the delays, congestion and pollution at Blackwall by effectively halving the load.

Do I have to do anything to qualify for the £1.50 off-peak rate?

Yes. This is crucial. All motorists have to register their vehicle(s) with TfL’s Auto Pay system, which is already in use for the congestion charge and Ulez (ultra-low emission zone). TfL already has about 1.3m vehicles registered. It means that the toll is automatically charged to the driver’s debit or credit card. Drivers who fail to register for Auto Pay will be charged £4 during charging hours.

What about motorbikes, taxis, minicabs, vans and HGVs?

Motorcyclists will pay £2.50 at peak times and £1.50 off-peak. Transit-size vans will pay the same as cars. Large vans will pay £6.50 peak and £2.50 off-peak. HGVs will pay £10 at peak times, and £5 off peak.

When will the charges start?

The charges for both tunnels will be imposed from Spring 2025 when the Silvertown tunnel opens to traffic. An exact date has not been announced yet. The tunnel is opening slightly ahead of schedule – the expectation had been that it wouldn’t open until Summer 2025. The entire project – first envisaged in 2012 when Boris Johnson was mayor – is about four years late.

How many drivers use the Blackwall tunnel?

The Blackwall tunnel is used by about 100,000 vehicles a day. It is expected that about half its traffic will divert to the Silvertown tunnel.

What about bus passengers?

In an attempt to lure Londoners out of their cars, cross-river trips on the 108 or 129 bus – plus the new Superloop SL4 route through the Silvertown tunnel, linking Grove Park and Canary Wharf from next year – will be free for at least a year for journeys that start in Newham, Tower Hamlets or Greenwich.

Are there any other ways to cross the river for free?

Yes. DLR trips in the immediate vicinity of the tunnels – such as between Cutty Sark and Island Gardens or Woolwich Arsenal and King George V – will be free for at least a year.

What happens if drivers don’t pay the correct toll?

A £180 fine will be imposed, reduced to £90 if paid within a fortnight. However only one penalty charge notice a day will be issued, regardless of the number of unpaid crossings.

Is there any help for low-income Londoners, NHS patients or small businesses?

Yes. Low-income Londoners living in 12 east or south-east London boroughs, including Newham, Tower Hamlets and Greenwich, or in the City of London, can apply for a 50 per cent discount. NHS staff and patients will be able to get the charge reimbursed. Drivers with blue badges will be exempt.

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