If you’re a regular user of the Blackwall Tunnel in London, be prepared to pay a toll starting in 2025. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has confirmed this decision, emphasizing that it shouldn’t come as a surprise, as it has been planned for several years. The purpose of this toll is to contribute to the funding of the nearby £2 billion Silvertown Tunnel, set to open in two years’ time.
Mayor Khan explained, “There’s nothing sudden about it. The intention is for both the Silvertown Tunnel and the Blackwall Tunnel to be tolled. What we don’t want to see is displacement as a consequence of one being tolled and not the other. Also, the Silvertown Tunnel hasn’t been paid for using taxpayers’ money or the TfL budget. It’s being paid for by borrowing against future receipts coming in through the tunnels.”
Toll Charges Still Under Consideration
While government documents released recently suggested that car drivers might face charges of up to £4 per crossing through the Blackwall Tunnel, Transport for London (TfL), which operates the tunnel, has not yet finalized the toll rate. However, it’s anticipated that the cost of using both the Silvertown and Blackwall tunnels will be similar to that of the M25 Dartford Crossing, currently priced at £2.50 for cars and £6 for larger vehicles.
A Historical Shift
This toll marks a significant shift in policy. During his tenure as mayor, Boris Johnson opted for tolls to fund the Silvertown Tunnel, reversing the stance of his predecessor, Ken Livingstone, who adamantly opposed tolls at the Blackwall Tunnel.
Addressing Traffic Woes and Pollution
Mayor Khan asserts that the Silvertown Tunnel is a necessity because the Blackwall Tunnel is no longer suitable for its purpose, resulting in frequent traffic congestion and worsening pollution levels. TfL data shows that in the most recent 12-month period up to September last year, there were 2,767 closures of the Blackwall Tunnel, causing delays totaling 17,228 minutes or almost 12 days. Most of these closures were due to “overheight” vehicles, as the northbound tunnel has a 4-meter height restriction.
Improving Public Transport
The Silvertown Tunnel is expected to improve public transport connections in southeast London, including a dedicated bus lane. Mayor Khan highlights that this will benefit people who rely on their vehicles for work, such as electricians and plumbers, by reducing their time stuck in traffic.
As the debate around these tolls continues, Tory mayoral candidate Susan Hall does not rule out retaining the Blackwall Tunnel toll. She emphasizes the importance of ensuring that the tolls are fair and proportionate to provide value for London taxpayers and tunnel users.
A Future Mayor’s Influence
Interestingly, the Stop the Silvertown Tunnel Coalition suggests that a future mayor could potentially remove tolls on both the Blackwall and Silvertown tunnels. They argue that the toll regime as part of the scheme may not be legally binding. However, the consequences of such a decision could include increased traffic, congestion, and pollution.
Alternative Uses for the Silvertown Tunnel
Advocates for alternative transportation options call for serious consideration of alternative uses for the Silvertown Tunnel, such as walking, cycling, trams, and other forms of public transport. Both Greenwich and Newham councils have called for these options to be explored further.
Upcoming Closure for Road Works
Lastly, for those planning to use the Blackwall Tunnel, please note that the southbound tunnel will be closed during the upcoming weekends (from 00.01 on Saturday, September 30, to 5 am on Monday, October 2, and the same times the following weekend, October 7-9) to allow for road works related to the Silvertown Tunnel’s construction. The northbound tunnel will remain open.
Stay informed about these changes if you frequently travel through the Blackwall Tunnel, as they will impact your commute starting in 2025.