Tyne Tunnel queues to be a thing of the past as plan to remove barriers gets green light

Quicker journeys through the Tyne Tunnels are a step closer today after transport chiefs approved plans to remove the toll barriers to allow vehicles through without stopping.

In May 2020, motorists were given the option to ‘pay later’ for passing through, allowing them to receive an invoice and pay online after their journey ended.

Now, plans to implement the full ‘Tyne Pass’ scheme have been approved which will modernise the toll payment system, reduce emissions and improve air quality, upgrading it from a largely barrier stop and pay cash system to a barrierless system using Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR). In addition, up to 80 permanent, full-time local jobs could be created.

Following the decision to approve the scheme by the Tyne and Wear Sub-committee of the North East Joint Transport Committee, proposals to fund the project will be discussed.

Councillor Gladys Hobson, Tyne and Wear Sub-committee Chair, said: “This heralds a major change to the way the tunnels operate bringing huge benefits for motorists, businesses and the environment as we look forward to quicker journey times and fewer idling engines on the approach routes.

“The Pay Later scheme has been very successful over the last few months, allowing more than 135,000 drivers to pay online after their journey and we look forward to the full scheme making it even more convenient for drivers to the use the tunnels.”

Councillor Martin Gannon, Chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee, said: “The current system is outdated and causes delays for drivers resulting in excess carbon emissions from traffic accelerating after leaving the tolls booths. This new system is a positive step towards the decarbonisation of the transport network and achieving our vision of moving to a green, healthy, dynamic and thriving North East.”

Subject to agreed funding in place, the anticipated go-live date will be October-December 2021. Drivers will not be required to carry cash in their vehicle and could choose to pay before or after their journey by a number of methods. ANPR cameras will read every number plate and register the vehicle journey.

Motorists will be able to pay the toll due for each journey by midnight on the day following travel by pre-paid account, website/app, telephone or cash through retail channels such as Payzone. Drivers failing to make a toll payment will face enforcement action from TT2 Ltd, which operates the tunnel on behalf of the Joint Transport Committee. They will be contacted by post using DVLA registered owner details for the vehicle.

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