Road users now facing increased toll charges at a busy Thames crossing have been “sold down the river”, an AA chief said today.
From last Sunday the cash payment for cars using the Dartford Crossing east of London have risen from £1.50 to £2, while charges have also gone up for goods vehicles.
Electronic charging, which means vehicles will not have to stop, will be introduced in 2014 when the charge for cars will rise to £2.50.
AA president Edmund King said: "Long-distance travellers from the UK and Europe, freight, business and regional users have all been sold down the river by successive governments through the unnecessary perpetuation of tolls and lack of future capacity at Dartford.
"Tolling was supposed to pay for the Dartford Bridge and then end, which would have been in 2003. However, it became a nice little earner which raises around £70 million a year."
He went on: "To keep charges here with the aim of deterring traffic is crazy as the crossing is on one of the most important motorways in Europe, keeping traffic away from London and communities in south east England.
"Ramping up the tolls when the majority of users have no alternative about the time and place they cross the Thames is simply impractical and a bridge too far in road charging."
The rise was also attacked by the National Alliance Against Road Tolls, which said: "The drivers who regularly use the crossing and independent experts realise that the truth is that the tolls are not the solution to congestion - they are the cause of it."