SOUTH bound tolls on the Dartford Crossing could be scrapped after the government said it will review current tolling arrangements.

The Department for Transport is considering “a one-way charging regime” which would mean removing the south bound tolls and installing a larger north bound plaza.

An alternative however could be to keep the two toll plazas but increase their efficiency through using newer technology and plaza layouts.

In a letter from the Minister for Transport, Sadiq Khan, to James Brokenshire, MP for Hornchurch in Essex, Mr Khan said: “We will need to understand the potential benefits and impacts from the possible introduction of a one-way charging regime at the existing crossing, particularly if there are any diversionary effects which could impact on other parts of the strategic and local road networks.”

Mr Brokenshire, who is standing in Old Bexley and Sidcup at the next election, says it could take the department 18 months to complete its study.

He said: “This is certainly a step in the right direction, but there still seems to be a reluctance to accept that the current tolling arrangements are contributing to the congestion and the misery of drivers.  “Despite traffic numbers falling delays have been increasing.”

According to the department, the Dartford Crossing “is one of the routes with the highest levels of delays nationally and this level of service is experienced by around 40 to 45 per cent of Crossing users”.

However a survey has shown the number of vehicles using it are the lowest for 10 years.

Figures published by the Highways Agency show traffic has fallen by 1.5 million in the last year alone.

In the year to March 2009, 51.6 million vehicles crossed the Thames at Dartford compared with 53.2 million in the previous year.

It currently costs £1.50 for cars to cross the bridge, however residents in the Dartford borough are entitled to a discount.

Dartford Council leader Councillor Jeremy Kite says tolls should be scrapped on both sides of the bridge.

He said: "You have to ask yourself if getting rid of the tolls in one direction is good for congestion, then why is it not good in both directions?

"They always said this was about congestion not money, so why not eliminate it in both directions?"