Press release

Timetable set out for Dartford Crossing toll booth removal

With the launch of Dart Charge set for 30 November, more details have been announced today about how the Dartford Crossing payment booths will be removed

Work to remove the booths and improve the road layout on approach to the crossing will begin on Friday 28 November - the same weekend the new payment arrangements go live.

Highways Agency project director Nigel Gray said:

The payment booths have been part of the Dartford landscape since 1963 but they contribute to congestion and cause delays. That’s why they are being removed and we are introducing a new payment system called Dart Charge. From 30 November drivers will no longer pay at the booths. Instead they will pay in advance or by midnight the day after crossing, helping to speed up journeys.

Under Dart Charge, drivers will no longer stop at a barrier to pay the charge. Instead, they will pay online, by phone, by post or in one of thousands of payzone retail outlets. Last week, the Highways Agency announced a new advertising campaign, part of a £1.1 million information campaign to help people prepare for the changes. Dart Charge will come into effect at 6am on Sunday 30 November, and the last cash payment will be taken at the Crossing around 10pm on Saturday 29 November.

The new payment arrangements will signal the start of major construction work to improve the road layout at the Crossing with 27 lanes of traffic reduced to 4 in each direction and a new safety system of traffic signals and barriers on the approach to the tunnels northbound, which will prevent over-height vehicles from entering the tunnels, hold traffic in case of an incident or congestion in the tunnel, and allow the safe release of vehicles under escort (eg hazardous loads)

The roadworks will continue until spring 2015 when drivers will feel the full benefit of the changes through quicker journey times. Until then drivers can expect some delays but all work is being planned to minimise disruption. During construction temporary speed limits and road layouts will be in use so drivers should follow instructions on road signs.

Connect Plus is the organisation which operates the M25. Connect Plus Services is facilitating the delivery of the physical changes at the Crossing.

Erwan Huerre, Connect Plus Services Transition Manager said:

Initially, we’ll work to demolish the southbound booths and drivers should see the benefits travelling over the QEII Bridge after the first weekend of demolition. On the northbound side, the works will take longer to complete because we need to construct a new tunnel safety system. During this time, road users will still need to travel through the existing barriers, but they won’t be able to stop and pay here anymore. The reason we need to keep the barriers at this stage is to stop over-sized or non-compliant vehicles from using the tunnel.

To find out more about Dart Charge, or to register for updates please visit the Dart Charge webpage.

Facts and figures about the Dartford Crossing payment booths:

  • The booths were first used in 1963, from the opening of the first Dartford Tunnel.
  • Initially there were 12 booths, with six in either direction. By 1985 this had risen to 12 in each direction.
  • In 1991, when the QEII Bridge opened, the booth numbers were increased to 14 for northbound traffic and 13 on the southbound side.
  • The booths are staffed by around 130 people: a combination of staff who work in the booths, and general staff who move between the booths, responding to incidents and overseeing the automatic toll booths
  • Initially payment booth staff wore peaked caps and uniforms
  • The booths are a piece of transport history. The Dart Charge team are in discussions with London Transport Museum and Dartford Museum about the possibility of them taking on a booth as an exhibit once they’ve been removed from the Crossing.

Dart Charge – Frequently Asked Questions

Dart Charge is a massive change to how people use the Dartford Crossing. Here are answers to some of the most frequent questions about the new payment arrangements:

When will the new payment arrangements be introduced?

Dart Charge will be introduced at 6am on Sunday 30 November 2014.

Why are you making the changes?

Removing the need to stop and pay at the barriers will ease congestion and speed up journeys for everyone.

How will I pay?

From 30 November you will be able to make one-off payments:

  • online at www.gov.uk/dart-charge
  • by phone on 0300 300 0120
  • by post to PO Box 842, Leeds, LS1 9QF.
  • at one of thousands of Payzone retail outlets

Alternatively, you can set up a pre-pay account now and receive savings of up to one-third on every crossing made during the charging hours (6am – 10pm) from 30 November.

How can I set up a pre-pay account?

  • online at www.gov.uk/dart-charge
  • over the phone on 0300 300 0120
  • by post - call us on the number above and we’ll send you a registration form.

What happens if I already have an account with DART-Tag?

There is no need to set up a new account – we’ll send you personalised instructions shortly to tell you how you can quickly and easily transfer to Dart Charge.

I don’t want an account, when can I pay for an individual crossing?

You will be able to make one-off payments from the 30 November; the day the new charging services go live.

When do I need to pay the charge?

The charging hours are between 6am -10pm every day. It will still be free to use the Crossing between 10pm and 6am. If you don’t set up a Dart Charge account you will need to pay the charge in advance or by midnight the following day for every crossing you make within the charging hours (6am – 10pm) after the 30 November.

What happens if I don’t pay?

If you do not pay by midnight the day after crossing, you will face a penalty.

Where can I find further information?

Further information and answers to frequently asked questions can be found at http://www.gov.uk/highways/dartford and everyone can subscribe to receive updates via this page

General enquiries

Members of the public should contact the Highways Agency Information Line on 0300 123 5000

Media enquiries

Journalists should contact the Highways Agency press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer