Tyne Tunnel bosses pledge to help day-trippers avoid fines during first summer holidays of controversial new system

Tyne Tunnel bosses have pledged to help make sure day-trippers are not caught out by the controversial new payment system.

Since November last year, vehicles no longer stop to pay - cameras automatically register journeys and payment needs to be made before midnight the following day – either online, via the app, over the phone, or at a PayPoint outlet with cash or card.

However, a number of drivers have reported issues or been caught out with fines.

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TT2, which runs the Tyne Tunnels, said it has launched a major public information campaign to run throughout the school holidays, to help summer day-trippers use the tunnels correctly, and avoid a fine.

Tyne Tunnel bosses have launched an information campaign for summer users.

Bosses say due to the pandemic, this summer may be the first time that thousands of families use the Tyne Tunnels since the crossing switched to open-road-tolling, so the operator is taking action to further boost awareness of the new system.

The five-figure communications campaign, called ‘There’s no stopping you this summer’, will run until September across a wide range of media including TV, newspapers, radio, YouTube, online, social media, outdoor digital boards, and blogs.

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Chief Executive of TT2, Philip Smith, said: “Over the summer, the profile of our tunnel users changes significantly as commuting decreases over July and August and one-off users, or infrequent users of the crossing, increase.

“We want to ensure that drivers who aren’t used to using the tunnels have a stress-free time by understanding – ahead of their journeys - how to pay their toll, and when to pay it by. We are encouraging people to get a Pre-Paid account which makes paying as simple as possible, and gives them 10% off their toll.”

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A file image of the Tyne Tunnel.

Taglines of the campaign include ‘Pre-pay and drive straight through’, ‘Save ten percent all Summer, with a PrePaid account’, ‘There’s no stopping you this Summer’ and ‘Pay online by midnight the day after your journey’.

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It has been six months since the Tyne Tunnels switched to open-road-tolling.

Bosses say new data shows journey times are down, C02 emissions have been slashed, and the number of people paying their toll on time is rising.

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A half-year review of all the statistics collected 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.

Since open-road-tolling was launched, the tunnels have seen more than 11 million journeys made and during the first month - November 2021 - 94.6% of drivers paid their toll on time. In June, that figure has risen to a healthy 96.52%.

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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% by the first anniversary of the new system being launched.

Bosses say northbound journeys are now 33 seconds faster and southbound trips, 29 seconds quicker – on average across a day.

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

The percentage of customers pre-paying for their journey has risen from 72% in November to over 77% last month.