Government scheme means we'll soon be driving on motorway hard shoulders nationwide
25 October 2007

We’ll soon be able to drive on hard shoulders nationwide, after Transport secretary Ruth Kelly today announced plans to expand the scheme.The announcement follows a trial scheme on the M42 motorway in the Midlands, where the hard shoulder can be driven on once traffic reaches a set volume.Once traffic flow reaches over 5000 cars an hour, an automatic system illuminates signs pointing motorists onto the hard shoulder, at a maximum of 50mph. The use of the extra lane is said to have eased traffic flow, cutting journeys on the northbound carriageway by 27 per cent.The Department for Transport (DfT) claims that fuel consumption was also cut in the M42 trial, by four per cent, and vehicle emissions by up to 10 per cent. We’re slightly confused about those figures, given that fuel consumption and emissions are directly linked.While objectors claimed that driving on the hard shoulder would make the motorways less safe, according to the DfT 84 per cent of drivers said they felt confident about using the hard shoulder, and that the personal injury accident rate has fallen from 5.2 per month to 1.5 per month on this section of the M42.There are also new ‘breakout’ sections – extra lay-bys next to the hard shoulder – and the hard shoulder can be closed to traffic if necessary.The hard-shoulder scheme will initially be expanded to include the M6 around Birmingham, at a cost of around £150million. A feasibility study into expanding the scheme further will also examine options such as high-occupancy lanes, heavy vehicle lanes and through vehicle lanes. "New traffic management techniques, like hard shoulder running and varying speed limits, offer practical and cost-effective solutions to cutting congestion and I now want to explore whether other motorways could benefit from similarly creative measures," said transport secretary Ruth Kelly.

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Comments
9

26 October 2007

I have driven the M42 while this system was on trial. For the most part it does work in primarily keeping traffic flowing. However, the only hold up occuring was when a car broke down and had nowhere to go, i.e. the hard shoulder, as this was being used to assist in high volumes of traffic to keep flowing. the net result was the aforementioned car staying where it was and the emergency recovery people not being able to reach the stranded vehcle and it's occupants.

The only real cure for higher volumes of traffic is to build motorways and dual carriage ways with more lanes, and keep the hard shoulder free for stranded vehicles.

It smacks of another get out jail excuse for the government, if the motorist is to continue to pay higher taxes left right and centre to the government, the least they could do is put some or all of this money back into the road network and alternative transport systems.

26 October 2007

Hi,

This is an interesting one - I drive this bit of M42 everday at all times of the day and night because of my duty pattern and I would like to make the following observations.

Why are the variable speed limits left in place long after the traffic has gone?

Why is the signage so poor?

Why do the Highways Agency shut lanes for the slightest reason?

Why is there ANPR and revenue cameras everywhere on this stretch?

Why does this lane feed into the exit for BHM Airport often leading to cars swerving across the carriageway or speeding up to get themselves out of the situation they find themselves in?

And lastly - Ruth Kelly is involved............

26 October 2007

It is just not right .... safety costs money and the hard shoulder is there for a good reason, to provide a comparatively safe place for broken down vehicles etc. Using this for "normal" traffic severely compromises safety; it is a cheap "cop-out" option for the government who once again avoid spending money taken from the Road Fund licence scheme on roads.

Captur'd by a 5UMO near Camberley in Surrey

8 November 2007

Couldn't agree more that these schemes do not work and are even dangerous. As a frequent M42 user, I find it incredibly frustrating that the "extra lane" does not continue across junctions, which is fine if you're exiting at that point, but useless if you are staying on the motorway, meaning that you constantly have to move into the adjacent lane and then back again once past the junction, which hardly promotes safe and flowing traffic. Then there are the risks of breaking down short of a lay by with the chance of being rear-ended by a 38 tonne artic. It just smacks of cost-saving and to hell with safety.

8 November 2007

You can make the motorways 10 lanes wide if you wanted and it wouldnt solve anything. If the motorways become clear, more people simply jump on them, and within months the same problems are back. The only soultuion is to lower the number of cars on the motorways. How do they do that? I certianly dont know, but there are solutions out there. Looking at other countries would be a good start.

8 November 2007

[quote DradusContact]

You can make the motorways 10 lanes wide if you wanted and it wouldnt solve anything. If the motorways become clear, more people simply jump on them, and within months the same problems are back. The only soultuion is to lower the number of cars on the motorways. How do they do that? I certianly dont know, but there are solutions out there. Looking at other countries would be a good start.

[/quote]

Problem with your suggestion of looking at other countries, is most of them in the developed world are alot larger than the UK with fewer numbers in population. Having said that, having driven in most of the major European countries, all have traffic problems. These are mainly in and around the larger cities. Moving away into the country, apart from accidents and road works, they seem to move freely at all hours of the day, which is something that cannot be said about the M1 and M6.

One of the best suggestions I heard was to make most of our freight transport travel at night, therefore freeing up the motorways during the day. On that note, the Dutch, Germans and Belgians have very wide and well run canal routes where vast amounts can be transported via this method, reducing somewhat the dependancy on roads to an extent.

9 November 2007

[quote Jon Hardcastle]On that note, the Dutch, Germans and Belgians have very wide and well run canal routes where vast amounts can be transported via this method, reducing somewhat the dependancy on roads to an extent.[/quote]

Here here. If youve ever been to amsterdam you will notice the huge numbers of bikes there. I was there for a week, and for a few euro's i had a pass that gave me unlimited use of the trains, buses, underground and metro. Im not exagerating here, in the week i was there nothing was even 30 seconds late. Thats the effeciency we should demand and expect over here.

9 November 2007

I recall there being something of a serious proposal to use all the dis-used railway lines (and the number would astound you) as roads. I thought the idea had brilliant potential but someone put the mockers on it.

24 November 2007

Have been on the M62 today eastbound from Bradford and notice that the authorities have built the odd layby alongside the hard shoulder

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