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Transport for London introduces targeted and avoidable charge for digging up Capital's most congested areas.
London has become the first city in the UK to charge utility companies for the amount of time that they dig up the Capital's busiest roads.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has championed the scheme and expects it to help cut congestion on the Capital's roads by encouraging companies to carry out works in less disruptive ways.
As of yesterday TfL is able to charge utility firms up to £2,500 a day for working in congested areas and at busy times of the day.
The scheme covers over 200 miles (57 per cent) of the TfL road network, covering the areas most susceptible to major roadwork disruption.
TfL is not exempt from the rules and the new scheme will also ensure that their works are delivered with minimal disruption.
Currently, around 70 per cent of TfL works are carried out outside of peak hours, compared to around 20 per cent of utility works.
By encouraging companies to carry out their work overnight or during off-peak hours, all road users - including drivers, cyclists and bus passengers - will benefit from more reliable journey times and less disruption.
More than 270 Metropolitan Police Service Traffic-trained Police Community Support Officers, who are funded by TfL and patrol the TfL roads on a daily basis, will play a key role in monitoring works under the Lane Rental scheme.
Together with TfL officials, they will monitor roadworks to ensure promoters are working during operational hours and take any action required should they spot bad practices by the companies responsible for the works.
Any additional revenue raised by the scheme once operating costs have been recovered will be put towards measures that could reduce disruption from roadworks, to be jointly overseen by TfL and the major utility companies.
The introduction of this groundbreaking scheme is the latest strand of work to be introduced in London to reduce the disruption caused by roadworks on the Capital's roads.
By April 2012, serious and severe disruption caused by roadworks on London's red routes was down by almost 40 per cent since permitting was introduced in January 2010.
This was a result of closer working with the boroughs and utility companies, the introduction of the roadworks permitting scheme, a reduction in the roadworks cap which restricts the number of works that can be carried out at any one time, and the Report IT system which enables Londoners to name and shame bad practice.
The lane rental scheme will further build on this, with the target of reducing disruption by a further 33 per cent or 165 hours of disruption a year by 2015.
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, said: 'Four years ago we declared war on the disruptive roadworks that drive motorists nuts, are bad for our buses and a source of serious economic inefficiency, and I am pleased to say we have already made some significant advances.
'Since battle commenced in earnest with the introduction of our permitting scheme in 2010 disruption is down 40 per cent.
'Lane rental is a vital addition to our arsenal. Setting the meter running the moment the first cone appears will finally make utilities understand the full economic cost of their work.
'It will encourage companies to work round the clock, team up and share trenches or develop new technology to speed up their work. Lane rental will keep traffic moving, and promote peace on our roads.'
Local Transport Minister Norman Baker said: 'Everyone who uses London's roads is acutely aware of how frustrating it is to find major routes being dug up in the middle of the rush hour.
'The delays caused by roadworks are inconvenient and expensive, which is why we have authorised a pioneer lane rental scheme in the Capital to see whether these delays can be cut.
'I hope that this scheme will encourage those who need to do road works to get them finished faster as well as reducing disruption for those using London's roads and I look forward to seeing the results of this project.'
Money raised through the Lane Rental scheme helps fund a joint research project set up last year by the Department for Transport and TfL to develop new technology to reduce the disruption caused by roadworks.
The 18-month project, run by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), is examining innovative engineering techniques that could see utilities use temporary road surfacing methods such as plating, fast-setting replacement road surfaces or more innovative methods such as core and vac techniques, which allows utility works to be carried out under the road surface without the need to excavate a large area of the road surface.
All these methods would allow both TfL and utility companies to carry out more work at quieter times, meaning that more roads could be re-opened during peak traffic periods; cutting delays and disruption across the Capital.
Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport at TfL, said: 'Our lane rental scheme allows us to encourage more roadworks on the Capital's busiest roads to take place outside the busiest hours, cutting unnecessarily prolonged and disruptive roadworks from our road network.
'By using any surplus raised to discover new and innovative working methods, TfL and the utility companies can further ensure that works take place outside of the charging periods, allowing all to benefit greatly.'
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