Tyne Tunnel ‘on track’ after cashless switch despite ‘bumps in the road’

User struggles had led to an independent watchdog being appointed at the Tyne Tunnel

Tyne Tunnel bosses say the cashless switch implementation is 'on track' after six months, despite acknowleding that there have been 'bumps in the road'.

It has been half a year since the Tunnel moved to an open-road-tolling system in the hopes of cutting journey times and slashing CO2 emissions.

The change got off to a stuttering start with long queues and confusion that eventually spawned fines being issued erroneously.

In April, an independent watchdog was appointed to look into the Tunnel and the ongoing issues experienced by customers.

Now, operators say that a half-year review of the Tyne Tunnel is showing positive signs.

The percentage of users paying their toll on time has risen from 94.6% to 96.74% between November 2021 and May 2022.

TT2, which operates the tunnels on behalf of the North East Combined Authority, also said it is on track to achieve a compliance rate of 97% by the first anniversary of the new system being launched.

The report highlights that Northbound journeys are now 39 seconds faster and southbound trips are 26 seconds quicker on average across a day.

Meanwhile, CO2 emissions have been reduced by 90% since the switch.

Philip Smith, CEO of TT2, said: “We have delivered faster, smoother journeys, less congestion, reduced emissions and better local air quality and they were the main reasons behind the decision to launch open-road-tolling.

“We were fortunate to follow in the footsteps of open-road-tolling launches at the Dartford Tunnel and the Mersey Crossing, and we have benefitted significantly from many of the lessons they learned.

Philip Smith

“Of course, there have been some bumps in the road because changing a tolling system that has been in operation for decades and one that handles 18 million journeys every year is a challenge. But we continue to listen to our customers and learn how we can do better.

“The fact that we now have almost 97% of drivers paying their toll without issue, is testament to the hard work of our team at TT2 and the strong partnership we have with our client, NECA.

“We anticipated an initial spike in UTCNs as people got used to a new system and way of paying. We are pleased to see the level of non-compliance steadily falling as people get used to the new system.”