THE Mersey Tunnel toll-booths are set to get a make-over as improvement works get underway on refreshing the system.

Work will begin on both tunnels later on this month.

Improvements include introducing contactless payment, improved coin analysers and changing the process of staffed lanes.

Some preparation work has already taken place for the refresh, with two test lanes installed into the Birkenhead Tunnel in late July along with work to update the systems behind the scenes.

The £3.1 million scheme will see the current toll machines (first installed in 2001) replaced on a lane-by-lane basis from late September to January to minimise disruption for tunnel users.

However customers are being advised that there may be some congestion during peak periods while the work takes place.

Once that work in all toll lanes is completed, work will begin to install the contactless card payment equipment into each lane early in 2018.

A fresh Mersey Tunnels website, incorporated into the main Merseytravel website with a user-friendly interface including a mobile site, is also due to launch in December.

Gary Evans, Merseytravel’s head of Customer Delivery said: “The work that is being undertaken over the next few months should make tunnel users’ journeys quicker and easier.

“The current system is reaching the end of its life and it is essential that it is not only brought up to date, but also improved.

“A lot of hard work and planning has gone into making sure this refresh doesn’t just keep the Mersey Tunnels running as they were, but helps to speed up journeys as much as possible and takes account of customer feedback to date.

“The possibility of card payments is something that we’ve received a lot of customer feedback about over the last few years and we’re really pleased that we are able to introduce this as part of the refresh.

“While we’re working to speed up cash transactions, tunnel users are reminded that Fast Tags already offer speed and convenience, and at a reduced toll.”

Members of the Liverpool City Region Transport Committee will be getting an update on the tunnel toll refresh at next week’s meeting on Thursday, September 7.

Improvements, some of which are the result of feedback received from tunnel users, include:

• New toll machines on both the Birkenhead and Wallasey Tunnel toll plazas

• The machines will include an improved positioning of both the coin basket and the “reject coin” slot (making it easier to collect coins not accepted)

• Improved coin analysers, ensuring the cash transaction is quicker for customers.

• A change to the process of the 'staffed' lanes, where payment will be taken by the attendant rather than the cash being handed back to them to make payment at the machine – again speeding up the transaction for the customer.

• The introduction of contactless card payment into every lane, to be in operation from early 2018.

• Digital displays to indicate information about your transaction in live time as well as the status of Fast Tag account balances.

• A new, improved website for Mersey Tunnels and the Fast Tag system.