Transport firms welcome Midlands motorway spend

By Rick Pendrous contact

- Last updated on GMT

Government plans to invest in motorway improvements could bring benefits for food firms
Government plans to invest in motorway improvements could bring benefits for food firms

Related tags: Fta

Plans by the government to invest more than £1.5bn on motorway improvements will make journeys easier at traffic hot spots across the Midlands and have been welcomed by the Freight Transport Association (FTA).

Highways England has announced investment in much-needed works on the M5, M6 and M1 that will see an extra 292 miles of carriageway operating a form of ‘smart motorways’. This is where the hard shoulder is used as an additional lane to ease congestion on busy sections during certain times of the day.

The three projects announced are the M1 between junctions 19 and 16 in Northamptonshire; the M5 between junctions 4A and junction 6 in Worcestershire; and M6 between junctions 16 and 19 near Stoke-on-Trent. “This is much-needed investment in the area which will help make journey times more reliable in these traffic troubled stretches of the motorway network,”​ said Sally Gilson, FTA Midlands policy manager.

Success of ‘smart motorways’

Gilson noted that ‘smart motorways’ had been successfully used in other areas, such as the M42 near Birmingham, to increase capacity, resulting in greater reliability of the network, fewer accidents and lower emissions.

Meanwhile, the FTA has criticised suggestions from prime minister David Cameron that banning lorries in cities would make life safer for cyclists. In response to Cameron’s apparent openness to examining the case for peak-hour bans on lorries in cities, the FTA argued this was not the right way forward to ensure vulnerable road user safety.

The prime minister reportedly told the House of Commons All Party Parliamentary Group on Cycling recently that he would ask transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin to look at the potential of measures to improve cyclist safety, including heavy goods vehicle (HGV) bans.

Safety and emissions

“Even a medium-sized lorry would have to be replaced with 10 vans which means overall safety would not be improved, let alone the emissions and congestion consequences,”​ responded Christopher Snelling, head of urban logistics at the FTA. “It has to be remembered that we don’t choose to deliver at peak times on a whim – our customers need goods at the start of the working day.”

Snelling added: “What we are looking at is the safety of everyone. For example, while early morning is rush hour for cyclists, the pedestrian peak is later. Forcing deliveries outside morning peak would interact with another group of vulnerable road users.”

Instead, he called for other measures, such as increased targeted enforcement against HGVs and drivers that do not comply with safety regulations in key areas such as London; improved road infrastructure, such as road surfaces and junctions; incentives to make lorries with better visibility more available and commercially viable; and allowing delivery operators to work outside the peak, such as easing night-time restrictions like the London Lorry Control Scheme (that ends at 7am each morning).

Related topics: Supply Chain

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