In its report, Midlands Connects say its recommendations for the “Midlands Motorway Hub” will help relieve congestion and could unlock 50,000 jobs and 50,000 homes. For those unfamiliar with Midlands Connect, is a pan-Midlands partnership made up of 23 Local Authorities, nine Local Enterprise Partnerships, the Chambers of Commerce, Highways England, HS2 Ltd, Network Rail and their sponsor, the Department for Transport. As such, their report, completed with Highways England, will have a considerable bearing on the future of the region.
Western Strategic Route to link M5 and M6?
Among the most notable recommendations, is to “consider in greater detail the long term economic case for a Western Strategic Route, linking the M5 and the M6 in the West Midlands”. Midlands Connect says that their early research suggests such a route would offer the “biggest benefit for improving journey times and reducing variability, providing additional capacity, raising resilience and supporting economic growth”. No routes are currently being considered, but further research will be undertaken this year to examine the potential economic and social benefits.
Strategic Park and Ride study
Another of the recommendations, is to identify potential opportunities for strategic park and ride. According to Midlands Connect’s analysis, it seems that that almost a quarter of all trips that enter the loop formed by the M5, M42 and M6 known as the “Birmingham Box” only travel a junction or two. As such, more work will be carried out to see where rail, Metro and road based Park and Ride could “intercept” trips in order to reduce congestion.
One of the more technologically based recommendations, is to investigate HGV platooning. This is a system where lorries are linked together by wireless technology so that they break and accelerate together, allowing them to effectively operate as a single unit. In doing so, there are potential improvements to safety, vehicle emissions and congestion. More work is to be carried out on the possibility of trails, together with measures such as freight only lanes.
The full list of key recommendations is:
- Estimated time savings signage on the M6 to encourage better use of the M6 Toll during incidents and peak times
- Identifying opportunities for a Strategic Park and Ride scheme as an alternative to short motorway journeys
- Examining the economic case for Western Strategic Route linking M5/M6
- Widening the M42 from Junction 3A to Junction 7
- Creating an A46 Expressway
- Further enhancements on M42 Junction 6
- Targeted improvements on M6 Junction 2,3 and 4
- Ramp metering (installing traffic lights) on M5 at Junction 1 and Junction 2
- Developing a smart motorway on M6, M1 to Junction 2
- Test the potential for an HGV Platooning trail in the Midlands
For further information -
Midlands Connects - Midlands Connects Unveils Bold 20 year Vision to Receive Congestion on Region’s Motorway Network, June 2018