‘It’s a money-making scheme’: Driver’s anger at Tyne Tunnel fine

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The driver has shared his frustration at the confusion of the new system.

A furious driver who was stung with a fine for failing to make a payment when using the Tyne Tunnel has slammed the crossing as a "money-making scheme".

Cormac Whyte had been travelling to the North East from Yorkshire in December to collect his daughter from Whitley Bay on Friday, December 17.

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It was that weekend that blanket fog covered the region and Mr Whyte wanted to save his daughter driving back herself.

Mr Whyte had not used the tunnel system before and has told NewcastleWorld of his frustration at the layout.

He said: "The fact I had to pay was absolutely not signposted.

"There were roadworks and the signs were very confusing about what lane you should be in.

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"The lanes to Whitley Bay and the coast looked to have swapped so that took all my concentration."

It was only on Mr Whyte's return journey back to Whitley Bay that his daughter informed him of the new system.

Mr Whyte says he made payment for four journeys after that, two for the first trip and two for the second, but was nonetheless slapped with two Unpaid Toll Charge Notices (UTCNs) from TT2 for the first two crossings.

The Tyne Tunnel makes a lot of money (Image: Shutterstock)The Tyne Tunnel makes a lot of money (Image: Shutterstock)
The Tyne Tunnel makes a lot of money (Image: Shutterstock)

Mr Whyte had made his payment on December 19, but the fee was due by midnight on December 18.

The driver has blasted the "corrupt money-making scheme".

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Despite the experience, Mr Whyte admits that it won't stop him from coming to the North East.

He said: "We really like Whitley Bay and the Northumberland coast and of course our daughter, so we will be visiting a lot."

NewcastleWorld took Mr Whyte's story to TT2, who acknowledged the details of the journey dates and fines, but 'strongly refute' the tunnel is a money-making scheme.

A spokesperson said: "Open-road-tolling has delivered quicker, smoother journeys for our customers and cut congestion significantly.

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"In the first few months, around 95% of drivers understood the new system, and paid their toll on time.

“Open-road-tolling will naturally take customers some time to get used to. We expect the rate to improve over the coming months, as it has on all similar river crossings.

The Tyne Tunnel's barriers have been removed as part of the 'free flow' schemeThe Tyne Tunnel's barriers have been removed as part of the 'free flow' scheme
The Tyne Tunnel's barriers have been removed as part of the 'free flow' scheme

“We believe that the pay-by-midnight-next-day system gives people the best chance of remembering to pay.

"The payment timeframe was selected to minimise the number of Charge Notices that are issued, based upon advice from all the similar UK and Irish river crossings.

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“Our absolute objective is to minimise non-compliance, and all the industry advice was that this is the best way to avoid issuing the charges in the first place.

“The longer people have to pay, the more likely they are to put it off and subsequently forget. This is backed-up by experience in other similar situations.

“We do not profit from UTCNs. There is an increase in revenue but for every customer that doesn’t pay their toll, there are costs for TT2 to recover that toll.

"The fine is in place to cover the costs of their toll recovery and ensure most customers who do pay their toll are not disadvantaged.

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“It is in our best interests for as many customers to pay as possible. We are obliged to reduce the number of UTCNs, as TT2 will be penalised and face a fine from the site owners, the NE Combined Authority.”

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