Tyne Tunnel hopeful of cashless future after more than two million journeys with number plate technology

Phil Smith, CEO of TT2 Limited, with the new Tyne Tunnels app.
Phil Smith, CEO of TT2 Limited, with the new Tyne Tunnels app.

More than two million journeys have been made through the Tyne Tunnel using its new number plate recognition system.

Introduced in November 2018, the automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) was the next step towards bosses’ aspirations to transform how the route is used by motorists.

Drivers are invited to sign up for an account and provide their registration number so it can be scanned by cameras as their vehicle passes through. They would then be charged for their journey.

Currently, those wishing to use the tunnel can top up their pre-paid account by website, phone or on a newly-launched app, or use cash at the toll plaza on the north side.

In future, there are plans for the barriers to be removed, easing congestion and helping traffic flow more freely.

Proposals for the so-called Tyne Pass Project took a step closer to reality when the North East Joint Transport Committee gave their backing to the work in April.

Do you use the Tyne Tunnel's direct debit system?

Do you use the Tyne Tunnel's direct debit system?

Their support meant transport bosses could officially start discussions with TT2 Limited, the tunnels’ operator, about making the scheme happen.

Customers would no longer pay cash on the day of travel, but instead have their number plates scanned by cameras. They could pay in advance or be billed afterwards.

TT2 Limited launched an app in April to assist customers in topping up their pre-paid accounts. Twenty thousand people have registered to use it so far.

A direct debit option for pre-paid customers was also introduced last month.  It has had more than 300 sign-ups. 

Phil Smith, CEO of TT2 Limited, has praised the tunnel’s customer for embracing new technology as bosses continue to look to the future.

He continued: “To have more than 20,000 customers sign up for the app in its first two months, 2.2 million ANPR journeys since November, and more than 300 register for direct debits inside two weeks, we can see that the appetite of tunnel users is certainly leaning towards more online services and automation.

“This is excellent news, given our aspirations to go barrierless with the Tyne Pass project in the future.”

It currently costs £1.80 for cars and light goods vehicles to use the tunnel. It is £3.60 for HGVs.