Dartford Crossing has seen its revenues reduce significantly during the pandemic as journeys were reduced

National Highways has revealed its coffers have taken a hit as traffic volumes between Kent and Essex fell by a quarter (25.5%).

Latest accounts for the year ended March 31 2021, show income generated from the river Crossing, which uses a free-flow charging system known as the Dart Charge, decreased by £47.6m to £161.4m, reports Kent Online.

The government-owned company said this was in large part due to the lockdown restrictions.

The significant drop in traffic resulted in a 28% fall in penalty charge notices (PCNs) issued to drivers who failed to make a payment within the required timescale.

However, despite this fall in activity the operators of the Dart Charge continued to rake in more than a third of its income through fines.

Last year PCNs were valued and recognised at £58.7m – a £14.2m reduction on the previous period.

It was also revealed £17.4m was not picked up on the books as fines despite contraventions being recorded.

Taking this into account, it predicts actual PCN revenue loss is significantly lower than the £17.4m recorded and is more likely to be between £0.1m and £1.6m.

According to the motorway improvement agency more than 94.8% of drivers using the Dartford Crossing are paying their Dart Charge correctly and on time.

Last year Kent Online reported how journeys across the Crossing had more than halved since the first national lockdown.

But National Highways says since government restrictions were eased in June 2021 traffic volumes have increased significantly and are now more or less back to the same levels recorded pre-pandemic.

And while “Covid-19 and Brexit variables” remain, it expects traffic to stay roughly the same despite increased home working.

The toll booths were scrapped in 2014 and replaced with a “free-flow charge regime”.

Last year it was announced French company Emovis has struck a 10-year deal worth up to £270million to continue operating the Dart Charge system.

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