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In 1967, the Tyne Tunnels opened to allow for smooth traffic flow to vehicle drivers travelling between Jarrow and North Shields. Today the tunnels are as important as ever in a world increasingly more dependent on mobility. However, the convenience the tunnels offer may soon come at a higher price to LGV drivers.

Tolls at the Tyne TunnelAccording to reports, the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority (TWITA) is planning to raise the toll for LGVs from £2.50 to £3.20 in 2014. That represents a 28% increase on top of the 25% increase that went into effect this past January.

To make the payment system a bit fairer for van drivers, the TWITA is also proposing reclassifying vehicles according to new parameters. This would afford cheaper rates for van drivers as opposed to forcing them to continue to pay LGV rates. Under the plan, a regular duel-axle cargo van would pay just £1.60.

Haulage Industry Resistance

As expected, the haulage industry is not happy with the proposed toll hikes. Countless numbers of LGV drivers use the crossing every day, adding further expense to the cost of doing business. Two hikes in two years are a little excessive, according to industry representatives.

To illustrate the point, consider an LGV that must use the Tyne tunnel twice daily. The total toll would be £6.40 daily, £32 weekly, and £1,664 annually. That’s far too much money to be spending on a single vehicle just to use the tunnel.

Tyne tunnel entranceFurthermore, the haulage industry asserts that these sorts of tolls add up. The average citizen may not consider a 70p toll hike to be very much, but they do not stop to consider that LGV drivers are paying all sorts of tolls, fees, and surcharges all over the country. Every time prices are increased, that’s more money out of their pockets.

Plans Already In Place

According to the TWITA, this latest toll hike was originally planned for back in 2007 when the agency was first given control over toll prices. A TWITA spokesperson promised this was the last toll hike as part of those original plans. Unfortunately, he said prices would continue to rise with inflation.

The agency insists the toll hikes are necessary to keep up with the maintenance cost of the tunnels. And although LGV traffic makes up only about 8% of the daily total, the haulage industry is seen as the perfect target for price hikes because the average consumer can be insulated from the shock of increase tolls.

Current estimates suggest some 5,000 LGVs use the tunnel every weekday. At 70p per vehicle, that’s a revenue increase of £3,500 per day. Only time will tell if the newly generated revenue will meet the budgetary needs of the TWITA. In either case, it appears that LGV drivers are destined to pay more beginning next year.

Economic Impacts

The rate hikes will affect individual LGV drivers in different ways. For example, those who work independently have to absorb the cost themselves. In some cases, the increased tolls can be built into the contract price a driver charges its customers, but more than likely, independent drivers will be forced to accept most of the toll like as part of the cost of doing business.

Drivers who work for haulage industry companies will generally benefit from their employers paying the toll on their behalf. However, that only helps the drivers themselves. Business owners will have to raise prices in order to cover their costs. Like every government mandated cost increase, the bill is ultimately paid by the consumer through higher retail prices.

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