Last month Computer Business was the first to report the government’s hunt for a new operator of the Dart Charge — a road toll for the Dartford Crossing; the only fixed Thames crossing east of London.
That contract was for a “second generation free-flow charging service solution” (in brief, a combination of ANPR and payments technology) and worth up to a notable £150 million over the contract term.
Now in a new part of the ongoing search, the Department for Transport says it is seeking a partner to handle the enforcement activity component of this contract, with a further £70 million – £120 million available for penalty charge payment processing and customer services.
(To include IT services and software licenses).
The contract is the second in what the department says it expects to be a three-part contract: “Highways England’s second generation free-flow charging service solution will be contracted through three main packages, each under a separate contract notice.”
It added in a contract notice today that it expects each of the three to be delivered as a “complete end-to-end managed service, including people operations, systems and maintenance.” The contracts will have 102 month terms. Requests to participate need to be in by 11/11/2019.
The operator will need to transition existing databases and all data within 18 months of the start of the contract. The actual role spans issuance and recovery of penalties, interfacing with debt registration organisations, processing of payments, customer support, and lifecycle IT services.
As well as handling some hefty data migration workloads, the winner will be responsible for providing licenses for any software used in the delivery of the contract. Highways England notes that “services associated with use of the software would be separately procured by the other contracting authorities. Highways England makes no commitment as to whether other contracting authorities will utilise such arrangements.”
The Dartford Crossing contract notices come as French firm Sanef, which won the right to operate the crossing in 2013, comes to the end of its £367 million, seven-year contract.
The crossing remains unpopular with motorists: an early Private Finance Initiative, it used toll revenue to pay off construction debt. Pledges were made to end the charge when the debt was repaid (in March 2002). The government opted to keep the charge.