Tyne Tunnel fare rise agreed after service 'badly affected' by income losses due to pandemic

Transport chiefs have approved a price rise at the Tyne Tunnel.

By James Harrison
Thursday, 14th January 2021, 3:24 pm
Updated Thursday, 14th January 2021, 3:25 pm
Tyne Tunnel, South Tyneside entrance
Tyne Tunnel, South Tyneside entrance

The change means cars using the crossing between Jarrow and Howdon will have to fork out £1.90 – an extra 10p – from April.

The hike, triggered by inflation, is due to be introduced following a tough year for the tunnel, which has seen traffic levels slump due to the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Formally proposing the increase, Gateshead councillor John McElroy said the service has been ‘quite badly affected by lack of income’ since the start of the pandemic early last year.

He said: “It’s a modest increase, but in these Covid times it probably won’t be particularly welcomed by the public.

“But the tunnel has been quite badly affected by lack of income [during the pandemic].

“It is a vital asset for the North East and we have to make sure, through this increase, that its future is secured.”

Cllr McElroy was speaking at this afternoon’s (Thursday, January 14) meeting of the North East Joint Transport Committee’s Tyne and Wear Sub Committee, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.

The increase is the first to ‘class 2’ vehicles since May 2019, covering cars, vans and buses which are ‘less than 3m high with 2 axles’.

A 10 per cent discount will be available for permit holders.

Payments for ‘class 3’ vehicles – ‘LGVs, buses and vans more than 3m high or three axles’ – were hiked in August (2020), to £3.70.

Between March and April last year (2020), traffic levels fell to about 17,000 vehicles a day – less than a third of normal levels.

According to a report for the panel, this is the ‘lowest level of traffic seen during the life of the [Tyne Tunnel operator] TT2 contract’.

By August this had recovered to 85 per cent of previous levels, before further coronavirus lockdown measures saw this crash once again, to about a quarter of expected vehicle use.

“It’s unfortunate, given the situation we’re in,” said Joyce McCarty, the deputy leader of Newcastle City Council.

“But costs do go up and we still have to pay the debts on the tunnel and the tolls, do help us pay for that.”

You can subscribe to this website and enjoy unlimited access to local news, information and puzzles online. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Simply click ‘Subscribe’ in the menu.