Fare increases and new tech confirmed for Tyne Tunnel

The Tyne Tunnel.
The Tyne Tunnel.

Drivers will have to pay more to use the Tyne Tunnel from April after transport bosses agreed to raise tolls.

The cost of using the crossing is set to increase to increase by 10p, from £1.70 to £1.80, for cars, although permit holders will also still be able to get a 10 per cent discount.

The price hike was recommended by the North East Joint Transport Committee last week (Tuesday, January 22) and given final approval by the Tyne and Wear Sub-Committee yesterday (Thursday, January 31).

The decision also means van drivers will be expected to pay 20p more, with their toll rising to £3.60.

A spokesman for the tunnel’s operator TT2 said: “The proposed toll increase for cars, vans and small buses would be the first for almost three years.

“The tolls are set by the local authorities via the North East Joint Transport Committee and are considered by them for managing and maintaining both road tunnels.

“It has implemented a modest increase due to inflation since the last increase in early 2016.

“TT2 Limited does not receive the toll money paid by customers, but is paid via a direct mechanism with the local authorities under the project agreement.”

Speaking at today’s meeting, Paul Woods, the North East Combined Authority’s (NECA) chief finance officer, repeated his assertion the Tyne Tunnel was unlikely to follow the example of the Severn Bridge between England and Wales in scrapping charges.

Transport bosses also heard more drivers were switching over to the tunnel’s new number plate recognition system for payment, which was implemented last year (2018).

More tech innovations for the tunnels include yesterday’s (Thursday, January 31) announcement that O2 and Vodafone customers will be able to maintain phone signal even when they’re in the tunnels.

And bosses confirmed they’re working on an app to keep tunnel users up to date.

TT2’s customer service manager Chris Ward said: “We’re also looking at an app which will have the facility to tell drivers if there’s an incident in the tunnel.

“I think that will be really well received and it will improve options for drivers.”

By James Harrison, Local Democracy Reporting Service