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Drivers to be charged up to £4 to use two east London tunnels under TfL plan

Transport for London has launched an eight-week consultation of the level of charges for the Blackwall and Silvertown tunnels.

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The entrance of the northbound approach to the Blackwall Tunnel in east London

Car drivers will be charged up to £4 each time they use one of two east London tunnels from next year under new proposals.

Transport for London (TfL) has launched an eight-week consultation of the level of charges for the Blackwall and Silvertown tunnels.

It is proposing that car journeys at peak times – weekdays between 6am and 10am northbound or between 4pm and 7pm southbound – will cost £4.

Under the plans, journeys at any time of day paid for by other methods will also incur a £4 charge, but Auto Pay users will be charged £1.50 for off-peak journeys.

Construction of the Silvertown Tunnel is expected to be completed in spring next year, connecting Silvertown with Greenwich Peninsula.

It is hoped this will reduce severe congestion at the nearby Blackwall Tunnel, which is currently free to use.

Climate activists have expressed concern about the new crossing’s impact on traffic and air pollution.

TfL says it is introducing fees for both tunnels to “manage traffic and pay back construction costs” of the Silvertown Tunnel.

The Silvertown Tunnel project is being delivered by the Riverlinx consortium, which is made up of private financial companies.

As of 2022, it had secured £1.2 billion of private finance to build, operate and maintain the tunnel.

TfL’s accounts indicate that the transport body’s total repayments over a 25-year period could exceed £2 billion.

The proposed charges for small vans using the Silvertown and Blackwall tunnels are the same of those for cars.

Depending on the time of day and payment method, the planned fees are £2.50 and £1.50 for both motorbikes and mopeds, £6.50 and £2.50 for large vans, and £10 and £5 for heavy goods vehicles.

Failure to pay the fee will result in a penalty charge notice (PCN) worth £180, reduced to £90 if paid within a fortnight.

The number of PCNs for each vehicle will be limited to one per day.

TfL is proposing that a number of types of vehicles and road users will be exempt from the charges, such as buses and coaches, black taxis, blue badge holders registered in the capital, and zero-emission capable private hire vehicles.

The transport body is consulting on offering a 50% discount for low income drivers living in 12 east and south-east London boroughs and the City of London, and a £1 reduction on off-peak charges paid using Auto Pay for small businesses, sole traders and charities registered in Tower Hamlets, Newham and Greenwich for at least one year.

There is also a plan to make certain cross-river bus and Docklands Light Railway (DLR) journeys free of charge for at least a year.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “Local residents and business owners currently face chronic congestion and pollution in the area around the Blackwall Tunnel.

“When it opens in 2025, the long-planned new Silvertown tunnel will help deliver quicker, more reliable journeys in east London by easing congestion and making journeys up to 20 minutes faster.

“The Silvertown Tunnel scheme has been years in the making, first developed back 2012.

“Since I become Mayor in 2016, we have worked to improve it, adding discounts for low-income residents and local businesses, new bus services, a bespoke cycle shuttle service and free cross-river bus and DLR transport for at least the first year.”

TfL director of strategy Christina Calderato said: “The Silvertown Tunnel is now less than a year away from opening and we are sharing our user charging scheme, so Londoners can have their say on the proposed charge levels and wide range of discounts and exemptions.

“Without introducing tunnel user charges for the Silvertown and Blackwall tunnels, there would likely be high levels of traffic and congestion, which would lead to detrimental air quality impacts, as well as longer journey times.”

Mr Khan expanded the ultra low emission zone (Ulez) to cover the whole of London in August last year.

The scheme means people who drive in the area must pay a £12.50 daily fee if their vehicle does not meet minimum emissions standards.

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