asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether consideration has been given to establishing a protocol allowing free movement of traffic through toll points at the Dartford crossing on occasions when traffic queues have exceeded a certain level.
Under the A282 Trunk Road (DartfordThurrock Crossing Charging Scheme) Order 2002, the Secretary of State for Transport may suspend charges at any time when such suspension is considered reasonably necessary for the purpose of facilitating the movement of traffic or promoting its safety or in the interests of the safety of the public.
Charges have been suspended in the past in extreme circumstances such as a failure of the crossing electrical systems, during which charges had to be suspended for a short period. A protocol is in place to facilitate the suspension of charges in exceptional circumstances.
Charges are generally not.suspended to deal with queues resulting from weight of traffic, because allowing free flow through the toll plazas will not necessarily result in less congestion on the crossing itself, due to the need to manage flow into the northbound tunnels, and, southbound, on to the network.
A review of the operation of the crossing is under way, looking at both possible ways to make better use of the existing infrastructure and examining options for additional crossing capacity. This is expected to be completed around the end of the year.