Transport minister to consider toll axe
PUBLISHED: 16:14 18 March 2009 | UPDATED: 10:33 23 August 2010
THE transport minister will consider suspending tolls at the Dartford Crossing for a trial period after five months of campaigning by the Kentish Times/Reporter and our readers. Geoff Hoon said he would look into the plan during a visit to Ebbsfleet Inte
THE transport minister will consider suspending tolls at the Dartford Crossing for a trial period after five months of campaigning by the Kentish Times/Reporter and our readers.
Geoff Hoon said he would look into the plan during a visit to Ebbsfleet International Station on Tuesday.
He met with Dartford MP, Dr Howard Stoate to discuss proposals for the extension of the £16 billion Crossrail network to north Kent. But when questioned about our 'Stop the Toll' campaign, he agreed to consider the option as more than 1,000 readers backed our campaign. He said: "It's an idea and I'm always willing to look at innovative options into how we can improve transport links. I will consider it. Perhaps the best thing is to get Howard Stoate and the MPs to contact me about it and to work in taking it forwards."
The Kentish Times/Reporter launched the 'Stop the Toll' campaign last November and so far more than 1,000 readers have pledged their support. All we ask is the government agree to suspend the toll at the Dartford Crossing for one month to see the effect it would have on pollution and congestion.
During the tough economic climate it would also save motorists money who use the crossing daily for work.
The transport minister was also positive about the possibility of extending the Crossrail system to Ebbsfleet International Station.
If given the go ahead the system would provide a direct link from Ebbsfleet to the heart of London's West End and a passage straight through to Heathrow Airport.
Mr Hoon said: "Howard Stoate has pressed me hard on the question of Crossrail and the extension to Ebbsfleet.
"We have preserved the route and made it a possibility for the future, and I'm certainly not ruling it out.
"But there are some technical issues in relation to the flow through to Crossrail which need to be looked at."
At present, plans for the Crossrail link, given royal assent last July, stretch from Maidenhead in the west to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east with stops at Heathrow, Tottenham Court Road, Paddington and Liverpool Street in between.
Plans to extend the links into north Kent were in original proposals but were dropped due to logistic problems but are now being reconsidered.
Work is expected to start on the line next year with the first trains scheduled to start operating by 2017.
The Shadow Transport Minister, Conservative MP for Scarborough Robert Goodwill, was due to visit Dartford yesterday as the Gravesend Reporter went to press.
He was expected to meet Gareth Johnson, parliamentary candidate for Dartford, at the river crossing to discuss the price hikes and pollution.