The announcement that The Highways Agency has awarded a £367m contract to the French motorway operator Sanef, to design and deliver a new free-flow toll system at the Dartford Crossing, has been welcomed by the PRA.

The crossing has been the cause of slow moving traffic and tailbacks on the M25 for many years. The new improvements planned for 2014 will now allow drivers to use the crossing without having to stop at the toll booths. Instead, road users will have the option to use the new ‘pay-in-advance’ service which will be available via telephone, text, online and at retail outlets both before and until midnight the day after their journey.

PRA chairman Brian Madderson said: “The PRA welcomes this much anticipated development to solve major disruptions across the M25 orbital motorway system. This is an ongoing issue that the PRA have been pressing the Department for Transport to tackle since 2010. Minister for Roads, Mike Penning MP, confirmed in a letter to the PRA in 2010 that ... ‘the Highways Agency has been asked to develop proposals for free-flow charging’.

“We have frequently expressed our concerns related to the wastage of essential road fuels while in the very regular traffic congestion, the impact of exhaust gasses on the environment and the sheer inefficiency to business and consumers alike of time spent queuing to make the Dartford Crossing. It is positive to see that the Government is taking necessary action to making driving easier and more fuel efficient for motorists.”