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TfL sets out consultation on user charge of Silvertown and Blackwall Tunnels

The new Silvertown tunnel, first proposed in 2012, will help reduce congestion and deliver faster, more reliable journeys in east London, including new public transport and cycle connections, and help to improve air quality around Blackwall Tunnel

  • When the tunnel opens in 2025, user charges will apply at both the Blackwall and Silvertown  This has been planned since proposals for the new tunnel were first developed in 2012, to manage traffic and pay back construction costs
  • Exemptions would apply for taxis and blue badge holders, Zero-Emission Capable and wheelchair-accessible private hire vehicles registered with TfL and DVLA-registered minibuses and coaches, as well as staff and patients eligible for the NHS reimbursement scheme
  • To support residents and businesses, a green and fair package of concessions and discounts is proposed, including a 50 per cent charge discount for people on low incomes across east and south-east London and free cross-river bus, cycle shuttle and DLR travel for at least one year
  • The consultation on charge levels, including discounts and exemptions, will run until 3 September 2024

Transport for London (TfL) has today (Wednesday 10 July 2024) set out a green and fair package of concessions and discounts to support Londoners and businesses when the Silvertown tunnel opens in 2025.  

East London residents and businesses currently face chronic congestion in the area around the Blackwall Tunnel. The Victorian-era tunnel suffers from frequent closures - more than 700 times a year - which results in large tailbacks, poor air quality and millions of hours lost due to drivers being trapped in traffic. The new modern tunnel linking Silvertown in east London to the Greenwich Peninsula will reduce journey times and help manage air pollution. ​It will also support economic growth and allow TfL to increase the number of buses able to cross the river in this area from five to 21 buses an hour in each direction during the busiest times between 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday - all of which will be zero emission at the tailpipe.

Tunnel user charges - required as part of the development consent for the new tunnel and first proposed in 2012 - will be introduced for using the Silvertown and Blackwall Tunnels between 06:00 and 22:00, seven days a week once the new Silvertown Tunnel opens in spring 2025.

It is proposed that the standard off-peak rate of £1.50 for cars, motorbikes and small vans would apply the majority of the time for vehicles registered for TfL AutoPay. To manage traffic during the busiest times, peak charges will apply. It is proposed that peak charges will be £1 more than standard off-peak charges for motorbikes and an extra £2.50 for cars and small vans, and will apply for four hours northbound in the morning (from 06:00 to 10:00) and three hours southbound in the evening (from 16:00 to 19:00), Monday to Friday. 

During the eight-week consultation, Londoners will be able to comment on the proposed tunnel user charges, discounts and exemptions. This will enable TfL to ensure the user charge and range of discounts, both of which will be subject to the approval of the TfL Board, have been informed by feedback from the public. 

The proximity of the two tunnels has meant that, since the plans were first conceived, both need to be charged to ensure that traffic levels do not increase as a result of drivers seeking to use the uncharged crossing. 

To help residents and businesses, and to support people to use new public transport connections, TfL has proposed a package of green and fair measures - including a wide range of concessions and discounts. These include:

All buses, coaches and vehicles with nine seats or more registered with the DVLA would automatically be exempt from Silvertown and Blackwall Tunnel charges;

All taxis, blue badge holders, and wheelchair-accessible private hire vehicles registered with TfL would be exempt. 'Zero-Emission Capable' Private Hire Vehicles licensed by TfL - which currently make up at least 40 per cent of the 93,000 fleet - would also be exempt;

Tunnel charges would also be reimbursed to NHS staff and patients eligible through the NHS reimbursement scheme and vehicles registered under the Accredited Breakdown / Recovery vehicle discount would not have to pay a charge;

A 50 per cent discount would be available for low-income drivers in 12 east and south-east London boroughs and the City of London, as well as a £1 discount on the standard off-peak charge for at least one year for small businesses, sole traders and charities registered in Tower Hamlets, Newham and Greenwich;

Bus journeys made on three cross-river routes which start in Newham, Tower Hamlets and Greenwich, as well as cross-river journeys on the DLR from Cutty Sark to Island Gardens, and from Woolwich Arsenal to King George V will also be free for at least one year. This will support local residents and help encourage people to cross the Thames by public transport;

The previously announced 'cycle shuttle' service, which TfL consulted on in summer 2023, will allow people with bikes to safely cross the river via a high frequency bus service for cyclists around Silvertown and North Greenwich. This service would be free to use for at least the first year. More information about this is now available at haveyoursay.tfl.gov.uk/silvertown-cycling-service

The 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 is launching this consultation to get feedback from residents and businesses on the proposals. I encourage Londoners in the area to get involved and have their say."

Christina Calderato, Director of Strategy at TfL, 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. 

"This proposed package of supporting measures aims to ensure the scheme is green and fair for Londoners and businesses. These measures will ensure that the new tunnel delivers on its objectives of reducing congestion and providing resilience at the Blackwall Tunnel, while ensuring we support local residents on low income, small businesses, sole traders and local charities."

Along with the Silvertown Tunnel, work to extend the DLR from Gallions Reach to Thamesmead is being progressed. Following the opening of the Silvertown Tunnel, TfL will continue to look at options for additional river crossings in east London, including the potential for a new ferry for pedestrians and cyclists.

Land that was used for the construction of the Silvertown Tunnel in Newham will be re-used to support the regeneration of Royal Victoria and West Silvertown, as part of the Mayor's wider vision for the regeneration of the Royal Docks, including the building of more than 36,000 new homes and the creation of 55,000 new jobs  across this historic part of east London.

Work on the new Silvertown Tunnel is continuing apace, with construction work on the main tunnel now largely complete, and Tidal Basin Roundabout now almost fully reconfigured. Following good progress in recent months, the tunnel is expected to open in spring 2025, but important work is still required to ensure all the new safety systems within the tunnel are working, as well as completing landscaping and new walking and cycling routes near the tunnel portals.

The consultation can be viewed at https://haveyoursay.tfl.gov.uk/TC-yourview

Notes to editors

  • For more information on the progress on the Silvertown Tunnel, please see: https://tfl.gov.uk/travel-information/improvements-and-projects/silvertown-tunnel and https://www.riverlinx.co.uk/
  • More than 1.35m vehicles are already registered for TfL AutoPay for road user charges across London and these would all be automatically registered for the new charges when they begin. More information about TfL Auto Pay for drivers is available here - https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/auto-pay
  • It is proposed that only one Penalty Charge Notice would be issued per day irrespective of the number of unpaid trips made in the vehicle on that day.
  • The Silvertown Tunnel was subject to significant scrutiny as part of the planning process, including previous public consultations in 2012, 2014 and 2015, and a six-month public inquiry in 2017, before a Development Consent Order was made by the Secretary of State in 2018
  • TfL's extensive development work has shown the new crossing, user charge and cross-river bus network will help cut congestion, support sustainable growth of new homes and jobs, and deliver an overall improvement in air quality. As part of making sure this happens, it began a comprehensive programme of monitoring in 2020 and has regularly published reports and monitoring data, which helps its understanding of local air quality. 
  • The tunnel user charges have been designed specifically to effectively manage traffic using the river crossings and help ensure that the economic benefits of the tunnel are delivered in a fair and sustainable way, as well as mitigating the environmental impacts. It will also help cover the construction, maintenance and operation payments of the Silvertown Tunnel. This is a requirement of the development consent for the Silvertown Tunnel, made by the Secretary of State for Transport in 2018.
  • As part of the consultation, TfL will also be consulting with members of the Silvertown Tunnel Implementation Group (STIG), which is made up of representatives from 11 London boroughs, the City of London, the GLA and National Highways. 
  • The proposed eligible benefits for the 50 per cent discount for low income Londoners are: Income Support, Income-related Employment & Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseekers Allowance, Universal Credit, Pension Credit, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit, Carer's Allowance and Housing Benefit. The 13 east and south-east London boroughs which will benefit from this are Barking & Dagenham, Bexley, Bromley, City of London Corporation, Greenwich, Hackney, Havering, Lewisham, Newham, Redbridge, Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.
  • There have been regular meetings with the Silvertown Tunnel Implementation Group throughout the construction of the Silvertown Tunnel, with papers and meeting minutes available at https://tfl.gov.uk/travel-information/improvements-and-projects/silvertown-tunnel-implementation-group

Proposed User Charges Table

Silvertown and Blackwall User Charges - 6am to 10pm (free to use overnight)

Table 

 

Penalty Charge Notice for non-payment - £180 (Reduced to £90 if paid within two weeks) maximum one PCN per day

Channel website: https://tfl.gov.uk/

Original article link: https://tfl.gov.uk/info-for/media/press-releases/2024/july/tfl-sets-out-consultation-on-user-charge-of-silvertown-and-blackwall-tunnels

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