Dartford Crossing Remote Payment Scheme

Project status:   Current

Start date:   April 2014
End date:  Spring 2015

Type:   Improvement Scheme
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Improvement Scheme

Part of our programme of improvements (generally with value <£10m)

Cost:  £48 million to £62 million

Managed by:   Area 5



Advanced works are well underway in preparation for the launch of Dart Charge in October 2014. Some signage will remain covered until the new approach to payment is in place.

Our first major construction milestone was reached at the end of May, with five new gantries successfully erected at the crossing:

  • two prior to the entrance to the Dartford Tunnels
  • three on the QEII Bridge

Four of these gantries will house the cameras and detection equipment to allow Dart Charge to be put in place. The other will be for new signage.

View a timelapse video of the gantry installation.

Work to install new signage continues – some will remain covered until the new payment system is in place.

We have also upgraded the tunnels with:

  • new safety systems
  • new fire suppression system - provides even greater protection for road users, maintenance staff and emergency services should a fire occur
  • wayfinder lights and escape signage

A new Automatic Incident Detection System is also in the process of being installed, to help us manage any incidents that occur in the tunnel promptly and efficiently.

The majority of these improvements were carried out overnight when traffic flows are lowest, keeping one tunnel open to northbound traffic to minimise disruption. We coordinated with others needing to work on the crossing to make full use of every road closure. This reduced overall disruption to the travelling public.

Time lapse photography

We have installed time lapse photography equipment at the crossing so we can track the significant physical changes taking place between now and Spring 2015.

One camera has been installed at the top of the south-east pylon, almost 500 feet above ground and offers a fantastic view of the existing plaza and road layout arrangement.

The second camera is positioned on top of the operational control room and captures close-up views of the northbound plaza and southbound charging gantries.

Footage will be used to raise public awareness of Dart Charge and to enable the project team to view and assess the progress with the construction.

View our first timelapse video capturing the gantry installation

What is happening?

We are changing the way you pay the Dartford Crossing charge. From October 2014 you will no longer pay at the barriers; instead you'll be able to pay in advance, or by midnight the day after crossing.

When and where is this happening?

Works are now underway to get gantries and signage in place in readiness to introduce Dart Charge during October 2014. The majority of this work will be carried out overnight, with minimal impact on road users.

Main construction work will then begin after October to remove the existing payment booths and change the road layout. This work will be completed by Spring 2015.

The crossing spans the River Thames between Dartford and Thurrock, approximately 16 miles east of central London, and forms a trunk road link (the A282) in the M25 London orbital motorway. This route is an important part of the strategic road network and forms a gateway to the major ports on the Kent and Essex coasts.

Why is this happening and what will it cost?

Toll charges were initially levied on the Dartford Crossing until the costs associated with the construction of the QEII bridge and the tunnels had been fully discharged.

However the crossing sees around 50 million vehicle crossings each year. This is much higher than it was originally designed to carry, leading to congestion problems. The government has made improving the performance of the crossing a priority. Commitments have been made to reduce current levels of congestion and improve traffic flow at the crossing both now and in the future.

As part of this, a Road User Charge was introduced in 2003 to help manage the high demand for use of the crossing. Removing the need to stop and pay at the barriers will further help to improve traffic flow.

Initial set-up costs for the scheme are estimated to be within the range of £48 million - £62 million. This includes the estimated costs for:

  • vehicle detection, charging and enforcement management services
  • road infrastructure
  • traffic management and safety works

It also includes the Highways Agency internal project costs.

The Highways Agency has awarded the main contract for vehicle detection, charging and enforcement management services to sanef. If this contract extends to its maximum term of 10 years the full potential value of the services delivered within it will be up to £367 million. The design and implementation element of this is included in the total set-up cost estimate above.

How will the scheme be carried out?

Introduction of the new remote payment arrangements will require substantial changes. While maintaining safety and use of the crossing we will:

  • reconfigure the road layout to provide four open traffic lanes in both directions
  • remove the plaza and payment booths
  • introduce new traffic control measures for vehicles entering the northbound tunnels

Due to the extent of the work required, it will not be possible to remove the existing layout immediately. Work will take place overnight where possible to minimise disruption to road users. The construction work is due to be completed by spring 2015. Throughout the construction period we will control traffic approaching the northbound tunnels to maintain safety.

We are running an extended public information campaign until spring 2015, to provide road users with clear and consistent information about the changes that will be taking place. This will include information on:

  • the transition to the new remote payment arrangements
  • road layout changes
  • how to pay the crossing charge
  • how to register for pre-pay accounts
  • the planned construction works at and on the approach to the crossing

What are the benefits?

Once the new arrangements are fully implemented drivers will not have to stop at the barriers to pay. This will reduce congestion and ease traffic flow.

How do I find out more information ?

More information will be posted on this project page as it becomes available. You can subscribe to be alerted when updates are made.

If you have any queries about this project you should contact the Highways Agency Information Line by emailing ha_​info@​highways.​gsi.​gov.​uk or calling 0300 123 5000.

Find out more about the Dartford-Thurrock River Crossing.

Details of scheduled roadworks are provided to help you plan your journey. Please note that works are weather- and resource- dependent and may need to be cancelled at short notice. This information is not updated in real time so please check Traffic England for current traffic conditions. Diversion timings are approximate and act as a guide only.

Will there be roadworks?

Yes, roadworks are required to carry out these works safely and advance construction works are currently underway. Work to install the new signage continues – some of these signs will remain covered until the new payment system is in place. We are also making changes to the Kent Marshalling Area – the holding area where vehicles with abnormal or potentially dangerous loads are checked before crossing.

How will you manage traffic?

Motorists may also notice some daytime lane restrictions on the approaches to the M25 Junction 1a Roundabout. These are not expected to cause significant disruption.

Overnight, we will continue to use lane closures on the M25 and A282 to carry out signage work, with some short term closures of the slip roads in the area where necessary.

Will there be diversions?

Clearly signed diversions will be in place as required for full road closures. Generally these will be overnight when traffic flows are lowest.

Gantries in place30 May 2014
System build and testing completedAugust 2014
Account registration openSeptember 2014
New remote payment arrangements go liveOctober 2014
Removal of plaza and barriers beginsOctober 2014
Construction work completedSpring 2015