Everything you need to know about Sadiq Khan’s new £4 road tax

Transport for London has announced expected tolls for using the Blackwall and Silvertown Tunnels under the River Thames from spring 2025.

But is there a way for drivers to avoid the £4 peak hour charge? Here’s everything you need to know about Mayor Sadiq Khan’s latest road charge.

Where is the Silvertown Tunnel?

The Silvertown Tunnel lies directly to the east of the Blackwall Tunnel in East London. It runs under the River Thames, connecting the North Greenwich peninsula in South London with the Silvertown area just west of the Royal Docks in East London. Its southern end is directly adjacent to the Blackwall Tunnel, while its northern end is just 100 metres west of Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s new City Hall.

How much does it cost to use the Silvertown Tunnel?

There are three “fare bands”. For most of the time between 6am and 10pm, motorists pay £1.50 per crossing. This applies seven days a week. However, the charge rises to £4 for northbound journeys between 6am and 10am and southbound journeys between 4pm and 7pm on weekdays. There is no charge between 10pm and 6am.

What about the Blackwall Tunnel?

Fares for the Blackwall Tunnel are exactly the same as the Silvertown Tunnel: £1.50 most times, £4 during the two peak hours and free between 10pm and 6am.

How much does a ‘return ticket’ cost during peak hours?

It costs £8 per day for motorists travelling north through the Blackwall or Silvertown Tunnels during the morning peak and south during the evening peak.

Is there a way to avoid the toll for the Silvertown and Blackwall tunnels?

Yes – travel between 22:00 and 06:00. There is no charge overnight. However, if staying up late or getting up early is not possible, the only other way to avoid the toll is to take a bus through the tunnel or the DLR to and from an adjacent station – these will be free for at least one year after the Silvertown Tunnel opens. More details below.

How does the toll compare to other road taxes?

The Dartford crossing (on the M25) costs £2.50 per crossing for motorists. The Ulez costs £12.50 per day, while the congestion charge is £15 – both for unlimited journeys.



Why are there tolls for the Blackwall and Silvertown Tunnels?

The Silvertown Tunnel was built using a private finance initiative (PFI) scheme – around £1 billion for the tunnel’s construction and £1.2 billion in loan repayments. Transport for London needs the toll revenue to service its £2.2 billion debt.

Why can’t there be tolls in Silvertown but not in Blackwall?

TfL says that if only one tunnel were charged, no driver would use it – and everyone would continue to use the other (free) crossing. This would defeat the purpose of building Silvertown, which was to reduce delays, congestion and pollution at Blackwall by effectively halving the charge.

Do I need to do anything to qualify for the £1.50 off peak rate?

Yes. This is crucial. All motorists must register their vehicle(s) with TfL’s Auto Pay system, which is already in use for the Congestion Charge and Ulez (Ultra Low Emission Zone). TfL has already registered around 1.3 million vehicles. This means that the toll is automatically charged to the driver’s debit or credit card. Drivers who do not register for Auto Pay will be charged £4 during charging hours.

What about motorcycles, taxis, minicabs, vans and trucks?

Motorcyclists pay £2.50 during peak hours and £1.50 outside peak hours. Transit-sized vans pay the same as cars. Large vans pay £6.50 during peak hours and £2.50 outside peak hours. Lorries pay £10 during peak hours and £5 outside peak hours.

When do the charges begin?

Costs for both tunnels will come into effect from spring 2025, when the Silvertown tunnel opens to traffic. An exact date has not yet been announced. The tunnel is opening slightly earlier than planned – it was originally expected to open in summer 2025. The entire project – first conceived in 2012 when Boris Johnson was mayor – is around four years overdue.

How many drivers use the Blackwall Tunnel?

The Blackwall Tunnel is used by around 100,000 vehicles per day. It is expected that around half of the traffic will be diverted to the Silvertown Tunnel.

And what about cyclists?

Cyclists are not allowed to ride through the Blackwall Tunnel, nor are they allowed to ride through the Silvertown Tunnel, both for safety reasons. However, TfL is setting up a cycle “shuttle bus” – cyclists can load their bikes onto the bus for a free ride through the tunnel. The cost will be free for at least the first year. One of the two lanes in each of the two Silvertown Tunnels (northbound and southbound) will become a bus lane.

What about bus passengers?

To entice Londoners out of their cars, journeys across the river on the 108 or 129 bus – plus the new Superloop SL4 route through the Silvertown Tunnel, which links Grove Park and Canary Wharf from next year – will be free for at least a year for journeys originating in Newham, Tower Hamlets or Greenwich.

Will the DLR be free?

Yes – for some journeys. DLR journeys in the immediate vicinity of the tunnels – such as between Cutty Sark and Island Gardens or Woolwich Arsenal and King George V – will be free for at least a year.

What happens if drivers don’t pay the correct toll?

A fine of £180 will be issued, which will be reduced to £90 if paid within two weeks. However, only one fine will be issued per day, regardless of the number of unpaid crossings.

Is there help for low-income Londoners, NHS patients or small businesses?

Yes. Low-income Londoners living in 12 boroughs in east or south-east London, including Newham, Tower Hamlets and Greenwich, or in the City of London, can claim a 50 per cent discount. NHS staff and patients can claim reimbursement. Blue badge drivers are exempt.

Low-income Londoners can claim the 50 per cent discount if they live in Barking & Dagenham, Bexley, Bromley, City of London, Greenwich, Hackney, Havering, Lewisham, Newham, Redbridge, Southwark, Tower Hamlets or Waltham Forest. They must be in receipt of a government benefit, such as Income Support, Jobseeker Allowance, Universal Credit, Pension Credit, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit, Carer Allowance or Housing Benefit.

Small businesses in Newham, Tower Hamlets and Greenwich can get £1 off the off-peak rate for at least a year.

Are taxis exempt?

Black cabs, yes – and some minicabs, namely those that can carry wheelchairs or are “zero-emission capable”. TfL says around 40 per cent of minicabs will be exempt.

What does Sadiq Khan have to say?

Mr Khan said: “Local residents and businesses are currently struggling with chronic congestion and pollution in the area around the Blackwall Tunnel. When it opens in 2025, the long-planned new Silvertown Tunnel will help deliver faster, more reliable journeys in East London by reducing congestion and making journeys up to 20 minutes faster.”

Are the toll rates and discounts fixed?

No. TfL is holding an eight-week consultation. Depending on the outcome of the consultation, the proposed tolls and discounts could be changed. The TfL board, chaired by Mr Khan, will have a final say later this year. There is also a chance that the £4 peak toll will occasionally rise in line with inflation, to maintain its deterrent effect.

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