The Dartford-Thurrock crossing must be one of the busiest points on the road network. Drivers stuck in the routine traffic jams on the approaches will testify to that on an anecdotal basis, but their experience is also backed up by the figures.
Last year a staggering 50.8 million vehicles used the tunnel northbound or bridge southbound.
However that is still less than at the peak seen in 2003-4 when the number stood at 54.5 million. The volume hovered around 54 million for a few years before sliding towards the current level, presumably because of the recession.
However it is interesting that while the decrease in traffic on the crossing was of the order of 6-7%, total traffic volume only fell by about half that amount over the same time period.
The reason for this discrepancy is not immediately clear. It is not as if there is an easy diversion route to the crossings which would explain the greater fall. And if any area has withstood the economic downturn it will have been the Southeast.
According to the Highways Agency the reliability of journeys made on the strategic road network is “measured by the percentage of ‘journeys’ that are ‘on time’. A ‘journey’ represents travel between adjacent junctions on the network. An ‘on time journey’ is defined as one which is completed within a set reference time, based on historic data for that particular section of road.”
By that measure, for the year to date about 58% of journeys were ‘reliable’ – which means 42% were not.