Blackwall and Silvertown tunnels will cost up to £4 at peak times, says TfL | TfL

Drivers will be charged up to £4 at peak times for a one-way journey through the Blackwall Tunnel or the new Silvertown Tunnel after the latter opens in 2025, Transport for London has announced.

However, TfL is proposing to halve these charges for low-income local residents in east London using any of the road tunnels under the Thames, as well as exempting buses, black cabs and zero-emission taxis.

Standard off-peak journeys will cost £1.50 for autopay car drivers, TfL said, as it launched an eight-week consultation on the proposals on Wednesday.

The Blackwall Tunnel has been free to use since it opened more than a century ago, but TfL has argued since it first developed plans for the new Silvertown crossing in 2012 that both routes under the Thames should come with a charge.

According to TfL, the Silvertown project, which costs around £2bn, is needed to reduce congestion and enable faster and more reliable journeys in and around east London, and to improve air quality around the Blackwall Tunnel, which is used by around 100,000 vehicles a day.

But campaigners against the project argue that it will only lead to more traffic and worsen overall pollution, and have called for the tunnel to be repurposed to promote greener modes of transport.

Road tolling has become a sensitive political issue, with London Mayor Sadiq Khan facing backlash from motorists in some areas outside London since Ulez was rolled out across the capital last year. However, London has the world’s longest-running congestion charge, which Khan recently confirmed will also apply to electric vehicles from next year when an original exemption expires.

Khan said the additional Thames crossing would make people’s journeys up to 20 minutes quicker and reduce chronic congestion and pollution around the Blackwall Tunnel.

He said: “The Silvertown tunnel project has been in the works for years and was first developed in 2012.

“Since I took office as Mayor in 2016, we have worked to improve it, adding discounts for low-income residents and local businesses, new bus services, a bespoke cycle shuttle service and free bus and DLR transport across the river for at least the first year.”

Low-income residents in 12 east London boroughs can apply for the 50% reduction, while Blue Card holders can drive for free.

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Christina Calderato, TfL’s strategy director, said: “This proposed package of support measures aims to ensure the scheme is green and fair (and) meets its objectives of reducing congestion and providing resilience at the Blackwall Tunnel, whilst ensuring we support local residents.”

Victoria Rance, of the Stop Silvertown Tunnel Coalition, said: “There would be no need for new tolls at river crossings in south-east London were it not for the Mayor’s plan to open up this new four-lane motorway tunnel to cars and HGVs. He has created a toxic problem, which he intends to solve by unfair tolls.

“The new roads will generate new traffic, and that new traffic will pass through already heavily polluted parts of Greenwich and into Newham, the most polluted borough in London, where thousands of children are already exposed to illegal levels of air pollution.”

Caroline Russell, a Green Party member of the London Assembly, urged Londoners to “respond to the consultation with creative ideas for reusing the tunnel, prioritising people walking, cycling and travelling on public transport”.

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