Big changes you need to know about at the Dartford Crossing
If you’re travelling around the South East, it’s likely you’ll need to use the Dartford Crossing at some point in the near future. You’ll also need to know about the new cash-less payment system and how to avoid being hit by big fines. Here’s our guide to all you need to know…
On-the-spot payments can no longer be made and have been replaced by a new scheme called Dart Charge. Here’s our handy at-a-glance guide to what it means to you.
New Dartford Crossing payment system explained
How the crossing will look when all works are finished in Spring 2015
Your questions are answered right here. Read on to find out how the system works, how much it costs, how to pay – and how to avoid being fined…
So, what are the changes: The big change is that you can no longer pay for using the Dartford Crossing at the barriers. This applies to the tunnels and the bridge. You’ll need to pay in advance or by midnight the following day.
How do I pay: Several methods are available, with a pre-pay account the cheapest option. Here are the details of all payment mechanisms:
1) Set up a pre-pay account:
Pre-pay account: This will need to be done in advance and requires you to pay in a minimum of £10.00 when you register. You can manually top up the account or set it to add cash automatically. This is the cheapest way to pay, with registered cars charged £1.67 per crossing compared with the new tariff of £2.50 for those who pay in other ways.
Set up a new pre-pay account here
Change an existing Dart Tag account
2) Pay online:
Pay online: Pay for individual crossings using the online service before midnight the following day.
3) Pay in advance for a one-off crossing:
Pay in advance for a one-off crossing: If you only use the crossing occasionally, then paying a minimum of £10.00 into an account is not economical. This option lets you pay for pay for individual crossings up to 12 months in advance.
Pay in advance here
4) Over the phone:
Over the phone: Those without internet access can settle the charge by phone, using an automated payment service. You must to do this by midnight the following day.
Don’t leave this until the last moment, because we phoned the number only to be informed it was too busy to take our payment – however this was on the first day of the service being launched.
Pay by phone: 0300 300 0120
5) Payzone retail outlet:
Payzone retail outlet: This lets you can pop into a local store and pay for the charge by cash or other means. Use the store locator below to find the outlet closest to you. Use the top drop-down option to select ‘Transport and ticketing’ then ‘Dart Charge’ in the next options list. Then input your postcode to find the nearest payment centre.
Find your nearest Payzone retailer here
6) Pay by post:
Pay by post: If you really don’t like using new technology, this pay-by-post option will be for you. You can only pay in advance, so you’ll need to be super-organised. Send payment to:
Dart Charge Customer Services
PO Box 842
Leeds LS1 9QF
Are some vehicles exempt from paying the charge: Yes. If you are currently exempt from paying the charge, that will still be the case. Please contact the DVLA to confirm if your vehicle is exempt.
Is it still free to use the crossing at night: The crossing remains free between 10pm and 6am every day of the week.
Why is this being done: The Government claims the work is intended to remove a bottleneck on the M25 and help ease congestion. Some slightly more cynical drivers have noted the new system is also expected to raise a considerable amount in fines when people forget to pay on time.
What it I ‘forget’ to pay: Anyone evading (or forgetting) to pay the charge will be hunted down using automatic number plate recognition systems and debt recovery firms. This will apply to vehicles from Europe, too.
How much will I be fined if I forget to pay: The penalty charges are as follows:
Non-payment after one day: £70.00
Reduced to £35.00 if paid within 14 days
Increased to £105.00 if not paid within 28 days
Penalty charge is payable for each use of the crossing, meaning a return trip could cost up to £210.00.
New service: Confirm your crossing payment was accepted
It’s the service that drivers have been demanding… read on to find out how you can dodge fines by confirming whether or not you’ve paid for your crossing.
New service could help prevent fines
A big complaint from drivers using the Dartford Crossing is that they’ve made payments only to receive a penalty charge weeks later. This new service promises to help motorists beat these unfair penalties.
How it works: After making a one-off payment, make sure you keep hold of your payment reference number then head to the link below. This will then tell you if the payment was recognised and for what crossing it was charged against. The service is currently in Beta so let us know how you get on.
Confirm your crossing payment here
How would you improve the payment system?
Please take a few seconds to take this poll and tell us how you’d improve the new charging system..
Price increases from November 30, 2014
Along with the new payment system, the price of using the crossing has increased from November 30, 2014. These are the new prices and the discount received for those who create a pre-pay account.
|Vehicle class||Vehicle type||Non-account||Dart Charge account|
Crossing is free to use 10.00pm – 6.00am
TOP TIP: DON’T EVER GET FINED
Beat the fines
Get email reminders each time you cross – and seven days to pay: Dartsave is a great idea that will save you from huge fines for not paying the Dartford Crossing charge. It will also extend the time you have to pay from midnight the following day to seven days after using the crossing.
Register for free and Dartsave will pay the toll for you, then send an email reminding you to pay them within seven days. If you don’t, the firm will send another email with a £5.00 admin charge attached – still far lower than the £70 fine that the Government levy after just one day.
Remember – like Transport for London’s Congestion Charge, you will not be reminded to pay your toll by the operating authority, which could make this an invaluable service.
Join up here: www.dartsave.co.uk
Latest traffic news and impact:
The new Dartford Crossing scheme requires a complete upgrade to the current road layout. So, until this is finished in Spring 2015, there will be a temporary road layout in place. This is the latest traffic news from the Highways Agency covering how the work will impact motorists using the crossing:
When: From Monday 1 December – late December
Time: 24 hours (from 5.30am on Monday 1 December)
Details: A282 northbound east and west tunnels open. Temporary road layout will be in place and traffic will continue to travel through the existing barriers, operating in ‘nodding mode’ to retain tunnel safety control. A282 southbound (QEII Bridge) running through a temporary road alignment; no ‘nodding’ barriers required to manage traffic flow
What the AA says…
Is it a good or bad idea? Here’s what the AA says about the change (and don’t forget to add your comments at the bottom of the page.
‘The M25 at Dartford is a strategic national road serving all parts of the UK and is also part of the trans-European road network – as such it has to be expected that many drivers will be unaware of the arrangements, penalties for non-payment, operational hours or have the luxury of timing their journeys to coincide with the non-charging hours. The AA has expressed concerns about this to the Highways Agency.
There was a 33% hike in charges in 2012 and drivers will face a further 25% increase when free flow charging is introduced.
In October 2012, responding to the increase in charges, the AA said that long distance travellers from UK and Europe, freight, business and regional users have all been sold down the river through the unnecessary perpetuation of charges and a lack of investment in future capacity at Dartford.
By 2003, toll charges had effectively paid for the Dartford bridge and should have come to an end but a regime of road user charging to ‘manage high demand’ was introduced and has become a nice little earner, raising around £70m a year.
Elsewhere in Europe there is a facility at some ‘free flow’ toll plazas for foreign drivers to pay by credit card and this might have been very helpful at Dartford had there been the space and capacity.
It would also have been useful for Dartford’s charging system to be ‘interoperable’ so that EU drivers with an account would find it easier to pay.
Free-flow charging may eliminate toll-booth queues and reduce congestion in the short term but most users have no choice about the time and place they cross the Thames. This is one of the most important motorways in Europe and it needs more capacity, not easier ways to pay.’
Dartford Crossing time-lapse
See the beauty of new payment infrastructure being constructed at the Dartord Crossing with this highly-acclaimed time-lapse movie…