On Monday, November 8 – for the first time in its 54-year history – drivers will drive straight through the Tyne Tunnels, without stopping – saving 1,944 hours a week in queuing time.

The new, much-anticipated open-road-tolling system will significantly cut congestion and make the 1.5 million journeys through the tunnels each month, much quicker and smoother.

The move will benefit the environment by reducing yearly CO2 emissions by 50,000 tonnes and improving local air quality.

From the start of Monday 8 November, the barriers and traffic lights will be gone, and the physical toll booths will gradually be removed over the coming months.

Instead of stopping to pay, drivers now either pre-pay, or pay-by-midnight-the-day-after their journey, via the website, app, phone or by cash or card at a Paypoint outlet

New Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras have been installed at the tunnels to automatically read vehicle registration plates. Customers will use their vehicle registration number to pay.

TT2, which operates the tunnels on behalf of the North East Combined Authority, has created 80 new local jobs to support the new system, at its contact centre in Wallsend.

The Tyne Tunnels are the third river crossing in the UK to launch open-road-tolling, with two other similar cashless systems operating successfully at Dartford Tunnel and Mersey Gateway.

Chief Executive at TT2, Philip Smith adds: “We are incredibly excited to see open-road-tolling go live – it’s a historic moment and a key move in modernising the tunnels.

“For the millions of customers who use the tunnel each year, gone are the days of scrambling around for change and waiting in queues. This will greatly improve their experience and make it easier and more convenient for them to pay. And, in the case of those who pre-pay, this makes their journeys cheaper too.

“We have undertaken a gradual, phased approach to changing the tunnels over to open-road-tolling to give drivers time to adjust and understand the changes to the way the tunnels will work from now on.”

Cllr Martin Gannon, Chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee, said: “Tyne Pass will deliver major environmental benefits for our region – in particular a significant reduction in carbon emissions from vehicles using the tunnel.

“The investment in a more modern operation will provide major journey time savings, alongside the significant environmental benefits of the scheme. This is a positive step towards the decarbonisation of the transport network and achieving our vision of moving to a green, health, dynamic and thriving North East as outlined in the North East Transport Plan.”

Cllr Carl Johnson, Chair of the Tyne and Wear Sub Committee, said: “This is great news for our region as we take another positive step towards reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality in North Tyneside and beyond.

“I look forward to experiencing the new Tyne Pass system when it comes into operation this November.”

Businesses will save time, and therefore money, by being able to transport goods through the tunnels faster.

Around 70% of customers now use a pre-paid account to pay for their journeys. Having a pre-paid account is the most convenient way for customers to pay as the toll is automatically deducted from the account balance. Pre-paying also makes each journey 10% cheaper and is free to set up and use.

Less than 20% of people use cash to pay their toll now, compared with 55% three years ago. Paying with cash is still possible – at Paypoints across the UK, including at locations situated right next to the tunnel entrances and exits.

To find out more about Tyne Pass, visit www.tynepass.co.uk