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Frequently Asked Questions

1.     How do I book a Tunnel Tour?

2.     How do I access your services?

3.     I am considering applying for a Fast Tag, what benefits are there for me?

4.     How much is a Fast Tag?

5.     Why won't my Fast Tag work?

6.     How do I fit the Fast Tag to my vehicle?

7.     How do I amend my Direct Debit?

8.     How do I manage my Fast Tag account online?

9.     Can I have a refund from my Fast Tag account?

10.   Why hasn't my Direct Debit gone out of my bank?

11.   I am hoping to travel through the Tunnel shortly, how should I plan my journey?

12.   Are the byelaws endorseable?

13.   What is the maximum fine?

14.   Can I ride my bicycle through the Tunnel?

15.   I have a summons, do I need to attend court?

16.   Are Tolls VATable?

17.   What do I need to qualify for concessionary travel?

18.   I am a concession holder, do I have to be in the vehicle to use the Tag?

19.   I am a concession holder, do I throw this Tag away at the end of the year and you send me a new one?

20.   I am a concession holder and have changed my vehicle, what do I need to do?

21.   What is the maximum gross vehicle weight permitted in either of the tunnels?

22.   What are the permitted size/dimensions of a vehicle through either of the Mersey Tunnels?

23.   Mersey Tunnels Facts: Claims and Myth-busting


1.     How do I book a Tunnel Tour?

Tours take place on a weekday evening and a Saturday. Alternatively, we can accommodate group bookings of twelve or more people at a time to suit that group. The tour will take up to three hours. Unfortunately, only children over 10 years of age are allowed on the tour with a maximum of two children per adult. Tours cost £6 per person.

You must book your tour in advance by:
    (a) Telephone: 0151 330 4504.
    (b) Email: tours@merseytravel.gov.uk

2.     How do I access your services?

Our postal address is: Merseytravel, PO Box 1976, Liverpool, L69 3HN.

You may email your enquiry to tag@merseytravel.gov.uk

Our telephone lines are open 8:00am to 8:00pm, Monday to Friday, for general enquiries. Our telephone number is 0151 330 1702. Our services can also be accessed via our website 24 hours a day.

You may also obtain or submit your application for Fast Tag or the Mersey Tunnels Concessionary Travel Scheme via a Merseytravel Centre. These are located in Birkenhead, Bootle, Huyton, Liverpool One, Queen Square and St Helens. Opening hours at these centres vary and further details can be found at www.merseytravel.gov.uk.

3.     I am considering applying for a Fast Tag, what benefits are there for me?

As well as being far more convenient and allowing quicker travel through the toll booth, users of Fast Tag receive a discount on toll rates compared to cash payers. The scheme allows you to plan your expenditure and budget for such, no more queuing for change, no more fumbling for cash. This is the smart way to cross the Mersey even if you only make two or three journeys a week. Fast Tag can be used for all classes of vehicle and you can check how much you spend and keep a track of journeys you have made via our website.

4.     How much is a Fast Tag?

Fast Tags are issued free of charge to account holders subject to a sufficient amount being paid onto the account each month. However, the tag remains the property of Merseytravel and must be returned when the account is closed. A charge will be made for each tag that is blocked, lost or stolen but this will be refunded on recovery of the Fast Tag. If a Fast Tag is damaged and cannot be used there will be a non-refundable charge.

5.     Why won't my Fast Tag work?

There are a number of reasons why your Fast Tag may not work.
(a) Have you sufficient money in your Fast Tag account? Remember, this is a pre-payment scheme and if your account is not in credit your travel will be refused.
(b) How old is your Tag? It may be that your Tag has come to the end of its life and may require changing.
(c) Have you checked that you have fitted your Tag correctly in accordance with the installation instructions? These instructions must be followed correctly and if the Tag is not fitted correctly it may not operate.

6.     How do I fit the Fast Tag to my vehicle?

You should have received a small plastic holder with your tag. The Fast Tag must be attached to the windscreen of your vehicle using the holder provided. If the tag is not fitted correctly when approaching the toll lane it may not operate the barrier.

Fit the tag into the holder and peel off the backing paper. Attach the holder to the inside of the windscreen with the vehicle classification sticker facing inwards to the interior of the vehicle. For a vehicle with a sloping windscreen the tag must be fitted above or behind the rear view mirror. For a vehicle with a vertical windscreen the tag must be fitted to the centre of the windscreen at its lowest point. The tag may be removed from the holder if required or when not in use.

Do not fit the tag where it may obscure the driver's forward view as this may affect the vehicle's MOT.

7.     How do I amend my Direct Debit?

If you wish to amend your Direct Debit you may amend the details on-line if you know your account number and password. Alternatively, please email Merseytravel on tag@merseytravel.gov.uk detailing your Fast Tag account number and the required changes.

8.     How do I manage my Fast Tag account online?

When you apply for your Fast Tag on-line you will set up a password as part of the application process. Once your account has been opened we will send you your account details by post. You may then modify your personal details, create or change your Direct Debit or make a top-up payment on-line. You can also access detailed information including your account balance and details of journeys made.

9.     Can I have a refund from my Fast Tag account?

The simple answer is "Yes", it is your money and you may request a refund at any time. Staff will ask you to remember that you should ensure that sufficient funds are left in your account for future journeys. Requests must be made in writing or by email to tag@merseytravel.gov.uk. Payment can be made either by cheque or direct credit into your bank if you pay by Direct Debit.

10.   Why hasn't my Direct Debit gone out of my bank?

You will select one of four possible dates for collection of your Direct Debit and in the majority of circumstances we will collect on that date. There may be one or two occasions where we collect on a slightly later date but this will be kept to an absolute minimum.

11.   I am hoping to travel through the Tunnel shortly, how should I plan my journey?

On the majority of occasions both of our tunnels are open. On this website we detail any planned closures, a week in advance, in order to assist our customers. We tend to make the majority of our closures during the night when travel volume is at its lowest. We would ask you to remember however that emergencies and accidents do occur, and we reserve the right to close the tunnel at anytime without notice.

12.   Are the byelaws endorseable?

Exceeding the speed limit is the only endorseable offence under the byelaws.

13.   What is the maximum fine?

The maximum fine for breach of a byelaw is £1,000.

14.   Can I ride my bicycle through the tunnel?

Bicycles are not permitted through the Kingsway Tunnel. Through the Queensway Tunnel, they are not allowed between the hours of 6:00am to 8:00pm, Monday to Friday, 7:00am to 8:00pm on Saturday and 8:00am to 9:00pm on Sunday. Please note, the time limits during a Sunday are only operational between 1st April and 30th September inclusive.

15.   I have a summons, do I need to attend court?

We would recommend that you seek independent legal advice on this issue. Merseytravel are not in a position to advise whether or not you should attend court.

16.   Are Tolls VATable?

The simple answer is "No", the toll rate is not liable to VAT and therefore receipts are not issued.

17.   What do I need to qualify for concessionary travel?

In order to qualify for concessionary travel there are some detailed criteria which can be viewed by downloading the concessionary travel application form from this website. See the Concessionary Travel Scheme page for more information.

18.   I am a concession holder, do I have to be in the vehicle to use the Tag?

Yes, it is a condition of issue that is strictly monitored. If the concession holder is not in the correct vehicle, or not in the vehicle at all, and tries to use the concession, then it may be confiscated. There are detailed conditions of use available by downloading the application form from this website.

19.   I am a concession holder, do I throw this Tag away at the end of the year and you send me a new one?

No, while concession holders are allocated a certain amount of free journeys per year, the Tag does not have to be renewed. Your journeys will be credited automatically on 1st April each year with the number of free journeys to which you are entitled. You should be aware that any journeys left in your account on 31st March cannot be carried forward and will be cancelled. You should keep your Fast Tag and continue to use it.

20.   I am a concession holder and have changed my vehicle, what do I need to do?

If you wish to change your nominated vehicle please telephone our office on 0151 330 1702. Our staff will be able to assist you over the telephone, between 8:00am and 8:00pm, Monday to Friday.

Alternatively you may call into a Merseytravel Centre, full address details and opening hours can be found at www.merseytravel.gov.uk.

21.   What is the maximum gross vehicle weight permitted in either of the tunnels?

For the Queensway (Birkenhead) Tunnel the maximum permitted gross vehicle weight is 3.5 tonnes, except for local bus services and emergency vehicles. For the Kingsway (Wallasey) Tunnel, the maximum permitted gross vehicle weight is 38 tonnes. Anything above that weight may still travel subject to prior approval based on a load calculation basis. For further details please email tag@merseytravel.gov.uk

22.   What are the permitted size/dimensions of a vehicle through either of the Mersey Tunnels

For vehicles using the Birkenhead (Queensway) Tunnel then the maximum permitted vehicle dimensions are 3.9m in height, 2.7m in width and 12m in length. For vehicles using the Wallasey (Kingsway) Tunnel then the maximum permitted vehicle dimensions are 5m in height, 2.9m in width and 12.2m in length. For vehicles and trailers the maximum combined length (including any load or loads and drawbar) is 18.3 metres

23.   Mersey Tunnels Facts: Claims and Myth-busting

Claim: The tunnels debt was paid off long ago

Fact: The loans are still being paid and will not be paid off until 2048. These payments are fixed and the penalties incurred by paying them off early would make the debt more expensive and therefore be a false economy. The debt does not just relate to the construction costs of both the Queensway and Kingsway, but also the money that was borrowed for tunnel maintenance and improvements before the Tunnels Act 2004. This now ensures sufficient funds are generated through tunnel use to allow for their upkeep and improvement without borrowing.

As assets, the tunnels are worth around £1bn. The capital expenditure levels and maintenance being paid is modest considering their value.

Claim: There are no benefits for local users

Fact: The tunnels offer discounted journeys to those using our Fast Tag scheme. The more journeys people make through the tunnel the more users will save, so it’s particularly beneficial for the most regular users, such as commuters – most likely to be local users.

The Fast Tag toll is almost one fifth cheaper than the cash toll, meaning for every 6 journeys the equivalent of the seventh journey is free. More than a third of payments (35%) are already made by Fast Tag, meaning many tunnel users already benefit from a reduced toll rate each journey.

Claim: The tunnels could be toll free as part of the national road network

Fact: Only those road projects, including tunnels, built on approval from Government as part of the national road network are paid for indirectly via road tax and general taxation. The tunnels were built as a joint venture by local authorities and as such their upkeep and maintenance remains outside of the national highway network. Calls have been made locally to Government to review this, but there are no plans currently.

Claim: Toll rises are out of line with inflation

Fact: Under the Tunnels Act 2004 tolls should rise by the level of inflation, but aren’t permitted to go above this. The toll level increases since the Act was introduced in 2004 have been below the level of inflation as elected members have exercised their discretion on economic and social grounds to maintain a discount. For example, Merseytravel’s integrated authority should have increased the toll up to £1.80 in 2013, but instead only approved an increase of 10p to £1.60. Being in line with inflation keeps the toll broadly in line with other cross river travel costs such as bus and rail fares.

Claim: The tunnels haven’t improved since they were opened

Fact: There are more than 25 million vehicles a year through the tunnels and significant investment in the operation, maintenance and development is needed to keep them safe and efficient. They are regarded as the safest tunnels in the UK and amongst the safest in Europe for their age following the last independent assessment. Major investment over the last seven years has involved the creation of new escape chambers for use in the event of an accident, resurfacing of the Queensway Tunnel, re-cladding of the Queensway Tunnel, renewal of fire mains and the renewal of high mast lighting. There are also a significant number of other smaller projects on-going on an annual basis. £12,630,000 was invested in 2012/13.

Claim: Other similar tunnels are toll free

Fact: Only those funded through Government as part of the national road network. There are still comparable charges for tunnels such as the Dartford and Tyne.

Claim: The tunnels were meant to be toll free within 10 years of construction

Fact: The local legislation which authorised the construction of the Queensway Tunnel may well have originally provided for them to become toll free within a defined period. However this legislation has long since been amended through various Mersey Tunnels Acts over many decades so that tolls remain for both tunnels to cover operating, maintenance and renewal costs and to save this burden falling on the local tax payer. Once the debt is repaid people in Merseyside will be consulted to determine the level of toll.

Claim: The surplus can be used by Merseytravel on anything

Fact: The two Tunnels are part of a wider network and cannot be considered in isolation. The surplus provides valuable revenue which is ring-fenced for reinvestment into public transport across Merseyside as identified in the Local Transport Plan. This is what an integrated transport system is about. This is particularly important given recent funding cuts. The surplus also provides a ‘buffer’ should there be unexpected urgent work required on the tunnels that has not been accounted for in pre-determined capital programmes.

 

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