Tyne Tunnel toll subsidy bid refused

Representatives, including Mayor Linda Arkley, to welcome the first users as both Tyne Tunnels are opened.
Representatives, including Mayor Linda Arkley, to welcome the first users as both Tyne Tunnels are opened.

A TRANSPORT boss says the north east is being ‘punished for its own success’ after the government turned down a bid for cash to ease the cost of Tyne Tunnel tolls.

The Department of Transport has written off a £150m debt to allow tolls at the Humberside Bridge to fall from £3 to £1.50.

And cash has also been allocated to Liverpool to ensure the newly-proposed Mersey Gateway bridge toll is capped at £1.50 for drivers during the current tough economic climate.

But Tyne and Wear Transport Authority chairman Coun David Wood has revealed that a similar request, for £40m, to keep down prices at the Tyne Tunnel, was rejected by the ministers at the government department.

Coun Wood said: “We seem to be being punished for our own success.

“We built the tunnel. It has been a success. Now we are told there will be no help in keeping those costs down while the economy is in trouble.

“If you look at the reason for helping out elsewhere, the recession and how that changes things, the people of Tyne and Wear, surely, are in just as much need of a little help to keep bills down.

“The coalition just seems to ignore the situation here.”

Tyne Tunnel tolls are set to rise from £1.40 to £1.60 for cars next year, with a further increase to £1.70 planned for 2014.

Transport Minister Norman Baker argued that the toll increases had been built into the new twin tunnel construction costs.

The two tunnels under the Tyne became fully operational at the end of November last year.