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Toll roads and congestion charges may be difficult to understand if you don’t regularly travel to London or you’re not a frequent traveller on Britain’s roads. Below, Trusted Dealers takes a look at the current charges on UK roads and explains how to deal with them.
Aside from London’s congestion charge, toll roads in the UK are few and far between. The four main motorways which carry a toll charge are the M6 in the West Midlands, the Dartford Crossing on the M25, the Second Severn Crossing on the M4 and the Severn Bridge on the M48. Aside from these tolls, there is an additional short list of bridges and tunnels that carry tolls across the UK. For a full list of toll roads, bridges and tunnels within the UK, click here.
How to pay for a toll road
Most toll roads allow you to pay at the barrier and payment is very easy. You will proceed through a toll plaza, where payment can be made and a sign will indicate the different payment options available to you.
Toll roads such as the M6 allow you to pay in the following way:
If you are unsure what the tariff will be for a particular toll, visit the Gov.uk website which provides a full breakdown of the payments required for every toll road within the UK.
In some instances such as the Dartford Tunnel, it is no longer possible to pay the toll charge at the barrier. Instead, the government has put a new charging system in place known as the Dart Charge. Motorists who are intending to cross the Dartford Tunnel must pay for the crossing in advance or by midnight the next day after crossing. If you are regularly travelling across this tunnel, you can make payments using a pre-pay account which saves you up to one third on every crossing, or you can make a one off payment. For more information on how to pay the Dart Charge, click here.
If you’re travelling abroad you will be exposed to a lot more toll roads and subsequent charges, particularly on the main motorway network. France in particular has introduced several significant changes in recent years, and there are still more to come.
Tolls can add a significant amount to your overall journey, so it’s well worth planning your route before you set off to make sure it is the most cost-effective and viable journey possible.
For a full breakdown of European Toll Charges, click here.
The London Congestion Charge
The Major of London, Ken Livingstone, first introduced the congestion charge into central parts of London in February 2003 with the aim of reducing traffic congestion in and around the charging zone. The initial charge was £5 per day but was increased to £8 per day from July 2005 and £10 from January 2011.
The congestion charge is operated by IBM using a computerised Automatic Number Plate Recognition system. Every vehicle to enter the zone between the hours of 7am and 6pm from Monday to Friday will be charged £8. Failure to comply to the charges will result in a £120 fine, reduced to £60 if paid in 14 days.
The start of the zone is at Vauxhall Bridge, along the Chelsea Embankment, through Kensington and along the Grand Union Canal, linking up again at Edgware Road. The congestion zone includes the entire City, financial district and the West End.
Are some areas of London exempt?
There are a few areas of central London that are exempt from the congestion charge, so it is crucial to have a map of the zone to hand if you’re travelling through London. There are also plenty of signs and symbols on the road to help guide you.
How do you pay?
You can pay the congestion charge online, via text message, in participating shops or over the phone. Payments must be made either the day before or on the day of travel. It is possible to pay the charge the day after but the charge will increase to £10.