MP queues up questions on Dartford Crossing

JUST LIKE buses: three questions from Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price in the House of Commons in a row and all on the subject of the Dartford Crossing.

1. Jackie Doyle-Price (Thurrock, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for which reason the Dartford Crossing tolls were not lifted on 16 July 2011 in line with the protocol he announced on 30 June.

Michael Penning (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Roads and Motoring), Transport

On 16 July at 13.01pm a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) broke down on the QEII bridge which affected southbound traffic. The recovery took 50 minutes to complete because the HGV’s air brakes had to be released mechanically.

The operation protocol set out the conditions which have to exist for a senior HA official to consider whether the Dartford Crossing charge can be suspended on a case by case basis.

The conditions are that there has been or is likely to be an emergency situation, where continuous queues, travelling at less than 10 mph, extend back—or have the potential to extend back—to the junctions 4 or 28 of the M25 or beyond, and where the suspension of the charge would ease the congestion and assist in managing the emergency situation. k/roads/documents/Dartford_ Crossing_Charging_-__Suspension_Protocol_Rev_A.pdf

On 16 July, traffic at its most severe extended back for five miles from the Crossing and did not reach junction 28. This does not meet the criteria for suspending the tolls.

The HA will continue to assess all traffic conditions that occur at the Dartford Crossing on a case-by-case basis, against the criteria for severe congestion, during the six-month trial of the operational protocol, to evaluate its effectiveness in dealing with such circumstances.

2. To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reasons tolls on the Dartford Crossing were not lifted on 26 July 2011 to take account of circumstances where queues on the M25 exceeded 10 miles.

Michael Penning (Transport; Hemel Hempstead, Conservative)

The traffic conditions on 26 July did not meet the specified criteria for severe congestion set out in the operational protocol being trialled by the Highways Agency. The Road User Charge was therefore not suspended.

3.To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on how many occasions Dartford tolls have been suspended since 1 July 2011.

Michael Penning (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Roads and Motoring), Transport; Hemel Hempstead, Conservative)

Since 1 July 2011, the Dartford Crossing Road User Charge has been suspended once, at 2.18 pm on 26 August.

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