The end of October was rife with announcements, a key one being DfT’s pledge to investigate the extension of the M42 hard shoulder running scheme to the Midland’s motorway box and other areas throughout the UK.
Motoring groups have welcomed the move as a good way to combat congestion at key bottlenecks across the country. The Foundation believes that hard shoulder running is a suitable approach to take on a limited number of motorway bottlenecks, but to work it must be well supported by the types of infrastructure inplace at the M42 pilot scheme to ensure safe operation (i.e. over head signalling, CCTV and interactive lane changing) . It must also be well communicated to the public, to ensure that there is a good understanding of where the scheme will be extended to and that it is not something that anyone can do anywhere when the roads start to get busy .
On its own, the Foundation believes that hard shoulder running is a temporary band aid for the wider problem of congestion. It is one in a package of solutions that can make a difference, but it must not be used instead of increasing road space and capacity, where there is good reason and a need to do so. Peak time congestion problems maybe solved by this approach, but if a road is at capacity throughout the day, another approach will be needed.
(Source: DfT release)