A new report has revealed shorter journey times, slashed CO2 emissions and more people paying their toll on time six months on from the Tyne Tunnels scrapping toll booths.

A half-year review of data since the toll booths were removed in November 2021, shows a positive overall picture of the tunnels’ performance and that drivers have adapted well to using a cashless system, according to tunnel operators TT2.

Since the new system was introduced, drivers no longer have to pull up at toll booths to pay for their journey and cameras automatically log which vehicles have used the road.

Motorists can then pay their toll before midnight the following day or set up a pre-paid account.

More than 10.6 million journeys have been made since the change in November 2021.

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During the first month in November, 94.6 per cent of drivers paid their toll on time. In May, that figure has risen to 96.74 percent.

According to the figures, northbound journeys are now 39 seconds faster and southbound trips, 26 seconds quicker – on average across a day.

Meanwhile CO₂ emissions have been reduced by 90 per cent since open-road-tolling went live. In May, the CO₂ saving equated to 2,640 return passenger flights from Newcastle to New York, USA.

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

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.”

The Northern Echo: Philip Smith, CEO of TT2 at the mouth of the tunnels. Picture: PRPhilip Smith, CEO of TT2 at the mouth of the tunnels. Picture: PR

“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.

“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 per cent 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.

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“We anticipated an initial spike in Unpaid Toll Charge Noticess 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.”

The percentage of customers pre-paying for their journey has risen from 72 per cent in November to almost 78 per cent last month.

The number of Unpaid Toll Charge Notices (UTCNs) being issued as a percentage of journeys made in the month are down from 5.39 per cent in month one (Nov ‘21), to 3.26 per cent in May ’22.


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