Sadiq Khan hints that drivers could be charged £5.25 to use Blackwall Tunnel and Silvertown Tunnel

18 October 2023, 06:00

Sadiq Khan has hinted that drivers could be charged £5.25 to use the Blackwall Tunnel and Silvertown Tunnel
Sadiq Khan has hinted that drivers could be charged £5.25 to use the Blackwall Tunnel and Silvertown Tunnel. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

Drivers using the Blackwall Tunnel and Silvertown Tunnel may have to pay £5.25 each time they cross, Sadiq Khan has suggested.

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London's mayor confirmed last month that drivers would have to pay to use both Thames crossings to help fund the construction of the £2 billion Silvertown Tunnel.

The charges are expected to be introduced in 2025. The Blackwall Tunnel is currently free to use.

Documents published in September appeared to show that drivers would be charged £4 to use the crossings. But Mr Khan said at the time that the exact amount drivers would have to pay had not been set yet.

In a letter sent to Transport Secretary Mark Harper on Tuesday, the mayor pointed out that the £4 charge was floated in 2015, and that the equivalent in 2023 would be £5.25, taking inflation into account.

Read more: Drivers will have to pay to use Blackwall Tunnel in 2025, Sadiq Khan confirms

Read more: 'It’s a disgrace' and 'a cash cow': Motorists erupt with fury as charging for the Blackwall Tunnel is announced

But he also called for poorer people living locally to be given exemptions and discounts on the tunnel charges, in light of the cost of living crisis.

Under its funding agreement with the Department for Transport, Transport for London (TfL) is required to maximise its revenue and let the government know when it takes measures to reduce its own income.

Mr Khan told Mr Harper: "Over the next year, and in advance of the Silvertown Tunnel opening and a new user charge being applied to the Blackwall Tunnel, TfL will work to define the opening levels for the user charges, as well as any accompanying discounts and exemptions."

Thousands use the Blackwall Tunnel to drive into south London and south-east England on their commute every day.

The Silvertown Tunnel, which is being built not far to the east of the Blackwall Tunnel, is due to open in 2025.

The tunnel is being built to relieve traffic jams in the Blackwall Tunnel, which Mr Khan has described as "not fit for purpose". The 126-year-old Blackwall Tunnel was forced to close 2,767 times in the year leading up to last September.

Because of the lack of bridges in east London, the Blackwall Tunnel is the most easterly fixed road Thames crossing for vehicles in London.

But the Silvertown Tunnel has been controversial because of the extra air pollution its opponents fear it will cause.

A spokesperson for the Mayor said: "New plans for the Silvertown tunnel and Blackwall tunnel are vital for the future of East London, particularly for tackling congestion which impacts residents and businesses.

"Tolling both tunnels was the idea of the previous Mayor Boris Johnson and agreed by central Government in 2018. However, Sadiq believes more must be done to mitigate the impact on lower income residents in the area.

"The Mayor has asked TfL to spend the next year working on the details of discounts and exemptions for local residents, working in consultation with the boroughs.

"The Mayor has also made it clear to ministers that any exemptions and discounts, which might impact income from the scheme, shouldn’t impact future discussions on wider TfL funding."