New figures released by Highways England today (Tuesday 13 October) show that journeys over the crossing are up to 56% faster than before payment barriers were removed, with drivers at peak times saving up to 14 minutes southbound and seven minutes northbound.
Spread across the day, the average time savings are seven and a half minutes southbound and three and a half minutes northbound. The improvements have been achieved despite traffic volumes at the Crossing growing by around 4%, with up to 157,000 crossings being made every day in July, around 20,000 over the Crossing’s design capacity.
Relieving congestion and speeding up journeys at the Dartford Crossing is what Dart Charge is all about. These really encouraging figures show what a difference Dart Charge is making for drivers. Drivers commuting from Essex in to Kent are saving around 20 minutes a day, and others commuting from Kent to Essex are saving more than 15 minutes a day. We still have more work to do, working with partners to ensure that all the approaches to the tunnels in Kent are working as well as they possibly can. But I hope that these figures will reassure people that the improvements are real and that Dart Charge is working.
Dart Charge launched last November to speed up journeys at the Dartford Crossing and give drivers more flexibility about how and when they pay the crossing charge. Instead of paying cash at a barrier, drivers now pay to use the Dartford Crossing online, by phone or post, or at one of thousands of retail outlets nationwide. The charge can be paid in advance, or up to midnight on the day after you have used the crossing. Roadworks to remove the payment barriers and to realign the road near the Crossing were substantially completed this summer.
Ongoing improvements include refining the traffic safety system, which manages dangerous loads and oversized vehicles on approach to the Dartford tunnels so that it operates as efficiently as possible, and working with Kent County Council and Kent Police to ensure that, for example, traffic signals where local roads meet the Crossing are synchronised to get the best out of the network. Drivers are encouraged to avoid blocking junction exits and yellow box markings on roundabouts on local roads in the area of the crossing.
Members of the public should contact the Highways England customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000.
Journalists should contact the Highways England press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.