Dartford toll price hikes branded "unfair"
The decision to increase prices to use the Dartford Toll has outraged motoring organisations.
Both the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) and The AA have spoken out against the price hikes which came into effect last Sunday.
The price to travel on the busy Thames crossing has jumped from £1.50 to £2 for cars. Two-axle goods vehicles now have to pay £2.50, while £5 is charged for heavy goods traffic.
The IAM has reacted angrily to the rise, questioning why motorists are still having to pay to use the crossing.
The organisation's director of policy and research, Neil Greig, told Autoblog: "The rise in Dartford Crossing tolls illustrates perfectly why drivers don't trust the government on motoring charges. The crossing should have been free once it was paid off ten years ago but instead drivers are still being asked to fork out more for no obvious benefits.
"If the income raised was seen to go into direct improvements for M25 users then they might be placated but as things stand today drivers are being asked to pay more to sit in the same queues."
The AA's president, Edmund King, has branded the rises as "unfair" and a "nice little earner".
King said: "Long-distance travellers from the UK and Europe, freight, business and regional users have all been sold down the river by successive governments through the unnecessary perpetuation of tolls and lack of future capacity at Dartford.
"Ramping up the tolls when the majority of users have no alternative about the time and place they cross the Thames is simply impractical and a bridge too far in road charging."
The Dartford tunnel first opened in 1963 and was joined by a second tunnel in 1980. The Queen Elizabeth II bridge opened in 1991.
Tolling was introduced to pay for the construction work, and was supposed to come to an end in 2003. Around £70million a year is raised from toll charges.
The crossing is still free for motorcyclists, and toll prices are discounted for local residents.
An automatic charging system will be introduced in 2014, costing £250million, which is aimed at reducing congestion – but the price for cars will rise another 50p!