Thank you for your email and apologies for taking a while to respond.
Transport for London (TfL) has developed the Silvertown Tunnel scheme primarily to help address the challenges faced at the Blackwall Tunnel, and with the benefit of feedback from several consultations.
The Blackwall Tunnel is at the heart of east London’s strategic road network. As I am sure you know, the current levels of demand on the tunnel greatly exceed its capacity, and congestion around the area is frequently very severe. On a normal day, there can be a two mile tail-back to access the Blackwall Tunnel, with queuing on both sides of the river.
We have considered a wide range of potential solutions to these challenges and we believe that a combination of a new road tunnel between Silvertown and the Greenwich Peninsula, with user charging of both the new tunnel and the Blackwall Tunnel, is the most effective solution. A factsheet is available to download which explains why we believe that alternative schemes would not address current challenges at the tunnel.
Our latest consultation closed on 29 November 2015 and included our indicative proposals for the level of user charge at both Blackwall and Silvertown tunnels. The proposals also include exemptions for both taxi and private hire, amongst other classes of vehicle similar to those currently applied to the Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ). Further information regarding our user charging proposals can be found here. We are currently reviewing feedback from the consultation, and there are currently no proposals to charge for Blackwall in advance of the opening of the Silvertown tunnel in 2023, should we receive the powers to do so.
Regarding your comments about the Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ), as I believe you are aware, the number of private hire vehicles circulating within the CCZ has increased by over 50 per cent in the last two years with 1 in 10 vehicles entering the zone being a private hire vehicle. While the Government has been reluctant to pursue legislation that would enable TfL to restrict overall numbers of private hire drivers and vehicles, the Mayor has asked us to investigate the impact and feasibility of removing the Congestion Charge exemption for private hire vehicles to tackle pollution and reduce day time congestion.
While we are currently looking into this, we will not make any decision to implement change until we have carried out a comprehensive assessment and put forward a consultation which will give the opportunity for all interested parties to express their views.
I can assure you that TfL has to date had no conversations that would provide larger private hire fleet operators with discounts, and certainly not at the expense of operator/drivers but I would be interested to know your source for that information, if you are in a position to share it with me.
I hope this clarifies the position but do let me know if you have any further queries.