Tyne Tunnel tolls: Price rise delay to help families struggling with the cost of living crisis could cost taxpayers £1.5 million

Drivers are set to see the cost of using the Tyne Tunnel hiked by at least 30p next year.

Bosses are planning to raise the cost of taking a car through the crossing from £1.90 to £2.20 in 2023, a new report has revealed, while the price for HGVs could go up from £3.90 to £4.40.

North East leaders will be asked to sign off on the increases next week, but could also delay the toll increase in a bid to avoid hitting struggling families in the pocket during the cost of living crisis.

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The new rate for cars could be brought in as early as February 1 next year, but it has been suggested that it could be put on hold until May 2023 – the same time as the new pricing for HGVs is due to come into force.

Tolls to use the Tyne Tunnel are set to rise again in 2023.
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North East transport bosses admitted that any toll rise “will be unwelcome news”, but say the latest price hike is needed to balance books feeling the effects of escalating inflation.

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Motorists who pay their Tyne Tunnel fees using a pre-paid account will still get a 10% discount under the new proposed toll levels, making the cost £1.98 for cars and £3.96 for HGVs.

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Since last November, drivers have no longer had the option of paying at the old toll barriers and must now do so either online, with a pre-paid account, over the phone, or in shops with PayPoint counters.

A spokesperson for Transport North East said: “The level of any toll is set out in legislation and is based on the Retail Price Index (RPI) and, given the rising level of inflation, an increase to the toll has been recommended.

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“We recognise the ongoing impact the cost of living crisis is having on local people and an alternative option will be discussed by members which could temporarily boost the level of subsidy to keep the toll lower for a time, providing some relief for tunnel users during the winter period.

"We know that any toll increase will be unwelcome news, but the committee will carefully consider all available options before reaching a decision at its November meeting.”

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If the plans are approved by members of the North East Joint Transport Committee’s (JTC) Tyne and Wear sub-committee on Thursday (November 3), it would mark the first increase to the car toll since April 2021.

A report ahead of the meeting suggests that the car toll could be kept at an “artificially lower level throughout the winter” because of the cost pressures people will face from higher fuel bills, delaying the rise from February until May.

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But doing so would require £1.5 million to be spent from the Tyne and Wear councils’ Tyne Tunnel cash reserves, with bosses earning freezing the toll beyond next May would see cash reserves “reduced to an unacceptable level”.

The crossing is jointly owned by the five Tyne and Wear councils, with toll charges used to cover maintenance bills and repay the “significant debts” incurred building the second tunnel, which opened in 2011.