Tyne Tunnels toll increase is too much, says operator

A Newcastle Upon Tyne haulier has slammed the latest Tyne Tunnels toll increase, describing it as "an extra burden on business".

The toll increase, which comes into effect on 1 January, will see commercial vehicle drivers pay £2.50 per journey to use the tunnels, a 25% increase on the current £2.00 fare.

Phil Webster, owner of Webster Plant Haulage, told CM that local hauliers have little option but to use the tunnels as the surrounding area is becoming more congested as more drivers choose to avoid the tolls."The powers that be are capitalising on the tunnels," he said. "Things are hard enough with the price of fuel."

Malcom Dodds, area manager for Tyne & Wear at the Road Haulage Association, said local hauliers cause very little congestion in the area. He called on Tyne & Wear Integrated Transport Authority, which operates the crossing, to even out the tolls for cars and LGVs.

"The biggest impact [of the toll hikes] is on local hauliers who have had to put up with congestion for years," said Dodds."A lot of [LGV] drivers are off the roads by rush hour."

The pricing strategy implemented in 2007 set out toll increases up until January 2014. The new, second crossing, which was completed in November 2011, is entirely funded by tolls.

Since January 2011, the toll for LGVs and vans has increased from £1.50 to £2.50 and is expected to reach £3.20 in 2014.

Tyne & Wear Integrated Transport Authority project director Paul Fenwick said: "Since both tunnels became operational in November 2011, journey times have reduced significantly and around 10,000 additional journeys are made through them every day. This demonstrates the benefits of the New Tyne Crossing to commuters and businesses."