5 October 2004

Transport for London (TfL) is set to scrap the multi-million pound Congestion Charge (CC) camera system and replace it with a more advanced set-up that can read electronic road toll tags, Autocar can reveal. TfL has not publically confessed its plans to move to electronic road tolling, a system which will allow prices to be varied according to vehicle type and the time of day. It would allow SUVs be charged extra in the CC zone, something desired by many politicians.

The initial £34m contract was placed last month for ‘new digital enforcement technologies’, which will be able to read number plates and identify cars at the roadside before the results are transmitted to the CC administrative HQ.

TfL wants the new camera system to be rolled out by late 2006 in the proposed extension to the Congestion Charge zone that would cover Kensington and Chelsea. The cameras in the existing CC zone will be replaced by late 2008. It is thought that a switch to electronic charging will be the centrepiece of London mayor Ken Livingstone’s campaign for a third consecutive term in spring 2008. Such a move would have the implicit backing of the Government, which wants to see a move to country-wide road charging. Introducing the system in London would be an ideal starting point.

The new system should allow TfL to raise much more money from the CC, which will not cover its start-up costs until 2007. Protests are likely to be raised about the huge expenditure on another enforcement system just two years after spending nearly £300m on the current camera set-up.

Livingstone was forced to raise Greater London bus and tube fares last week in order to help cover the interest on his planned £3bn borrowing for transport projects. The fare hike will raise £150m per year, nearly double the current £85m income from the Congestion Charge.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Skoda-Karoq 2.0 TDI 4x4
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Diesel version of Skoda’s junior SUV is unobtrusive and undemanding, but we’d still go for the silkier petrol version of the Karoq
  • Audi Q7 e-tron
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Expensive and flawed but this understated diesel-electric Audi Q7 has a lot to offer
  • Citroën C3
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Is the third gen Citroën C3 ‘fresh and different’ enough to take on its supermini rivals? We spend six months with one to find out
  • BMW X3
    First Drive
    15 October 2017
    A satisfying rework of the X3 that usefully improves its handling, cabin finish, space and connectivity to make this BMW a class front-runner again
  • Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer
    First Drive
    13 October 2017
    Off-road estate is now bigger, more spacious and available with torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, but is it enough to make its German rivals anxious?