Taxi drivers are exempt, minicab drivers could be fined up to £130
New cameras are being introduced in the Rotherhithe Tunnel to increase safety and deter vehicles that don’t meet the safety restrictions from using the route. Vehicles that are more than two metres (six foot six inches) wide or two metres high, or goods vehicles weighing more than 2 tonnes, are not safe to travel through the tunnel. From early February, enforcement will be carried out by the new cameras and people driving vehicles through the tunnel that do not comply with the restrictions could be fined up to £130.
Taxi drivers remain exempt from the restrictions, however private hire drivers could face the fines if they drive a vehicle outside of the criteria set.
The tunnel, which was built in 1908, was not designed to cope with modern levels of traffic. Safety is Transport for London’s (TfL’s) top priority and in September 2018 it carried out detailed analysis of the tunnel’s ventilation system, which would be used to extract smoke and other dangerous fumes in the event of a fire. This showed that new restrictions were vital to ensure road users could continue to use the tunnel safely, whilst TfL works on plans for the tunnel’s future. By not complying with restrictions at the tunnel, drivers are putting themselves and others at risk.
Enforcement officers have been present at both approaches to the tunnel since the new restrictions were introduced to assist drivers and prevent vehicles entering the tunnel that do not comply. Officers have turned away an average of 600 vehicles a day since September.
Drivers whose vehicles do not meet the restrictions are advised to use nearby Tower Bridge or the Blackwall Tunnel to cross the Thames. The congestion charge does not apply to either crossing.
Glynn Barton, TfL’s Director of Network Management, said: “Safety is our top priority and these restrictions are absolutely essential to ensure that people can continue to use the tunnel safely. People driving vehicles through the tunnel that do not meet the restrictions are putting both themselves and others at risk. I would encourage all users of the tunnel to check that their vehicle is below two metres in height and width, and that goods vehicles are less than two tonnes in weight, so that they are compliant when the new cameras are switched on.”
Reducing danger on London’s roads is key to the Mayor’s Vision Zero goal of eliminating death and serious injury from the transport network. The bold approach will also include the introduction of lower speed limits on the road network, the transformation of dangerous junctions, tough safety standards for the design of HGVs and a comprehensive bus safety programme, which includes speed-limiting technology and a new innovative training course for all drivers.