The best and worst motorway services revealed

Norton Canes is the best motorway services

Norton Canes on the M6 Toll has been named England’s best motorway services for the second year running.

Meanwhile, Westmorland is the best operator, achieving a 97 percent customer satisfaction score across its four sites in Gloucestershire and Cumbria.

Norton Canes is one of six motorway services to receive a near-perfect 99 percent satisfaction report, the others being Heston westbound (M4), Gloucester southbound (M5), Stafford northbound (M6), South Mimms (M25) and Winchester northbound (M3).

At the opposite end of the table, the ageing Severn View on the M48 is named England’s worst motorway services, behind Burtonwood (M62), Cullompton (M5), Frankley southbound (M5) and Charnock Richard southbound (M6).

‘An important safety role’

best and worst motorway services

Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, the independent watchdog behind the survey, said: “Motorway users tell us they have a good experience when visiting service areas, but it’s clear that many do not feel the experience is good value for money. They want pleasant, well-maintained facilities with good quality food choices.

“Motorway services continue to play an important safety role providing drivers with the opportunity to take a break. Drivers in the survey confirm they feel less stressed and are more alert after stopping at motorway services.”

The survey asked 11,600 customers about their experience at 111 service areas in England, with visitors voicing their opinions on facilities such as toilets, staffing, food and drink.

Unsurprisingly, just 59 percent of visitors felt that the food and drink they ordered on the motorway represented good value for money. 

A recent survey revealed that service areas are charging up to 37 pence more for a litre of fuel than filling stations located just off the motorway.

More positive is the news that 89 percent of visitors were pleased with the cleanliness of the toilets, and the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff was rated good by 97 percent of motorists.

The top 10 best motorway services in England

Norton Canes motorway services

  1. Norton Canes (M6 Toll)
  2. Heston westbound (M4)
  3. Gloucester southbound (M5)
  4. Stafford northbound (M6)
  5. South Mimms (M25)
  6. Winchester northbound (M3)
  7. Gloucester northbound (M5)
  8. Stafford southbound (M6)
  9. Tibshelf northbound (M1)
  10. Hilton Park southbound (M6)

The 10 worst motorway services in England

Charnock Richard

  1. Severn View (M48)
  2. Burtonwood (M62)
  3. Cullompton (M5)
  4. Frankley southbound (M5)
  5. Charnock Richard southbound (M6)
  6. Charnock Richard northbound (M6)
  7. Blyth (A1 M)
  8. Membury eastbound (M4)
  9. Southwaite northbound (M6)
  10. Sandbach northbound (M6)

1 in 10 drivers in the North West ignore red ‘X’ motorway signs

Red X sign

Figures released by Highways England show that around one in ten drivers in the North West are choosing to ignore the red ‘X’ signs when lanes are closed on the motorway

Some are even waiting until they reach an incident before changing lanes, putting their own, and the lives of other drivers, at risk.

Motorway lanes might be closed for a number of reasons, including an accident or breakdown, a person or animal in the road, to provide a safe refuge for road workers, or to allow the emergency services to reach the scene of an incident.

The message is simple: stay out of the motorway lane if the red ‘X’ is displayed. Anyone caught ignoring a red ‘X’ could be issued with a £100 fine and three points on their licence. 

Highways England has released CCTV footage showing a car narrowly avoiding a collision with a lorry as the driver changes lane on the M60 near Whitefield. The driver had chosen to ignore the red ‘X’ sign and was forced to take drastic action to avoid hitting two traffic officers assisting the driver of a broken-down vehicle.

Nailbiting moments

Traffic officer Ben Cookson is based at Highways England’s Milnrow depot and was one of the officers who responded to the incident. He said:

“We’d done everything we could to keep everyone safe by stopping behind the broken-down car with our emergency lights flashing, putting out an incident sign and displaying red Xs to close the lane but there were still drivers leaving it until the last few seconds before pulling in.

“It does make you bite your nails when you see something like that and you always have to have one eye on what’s going on behind you to stay safe while you’re trying to deal with an incident.

“My job is to keep the roads moving safely, so I’d urge any drivers who don’t take notice of red X signs to think about the impact it would have on their own and other people’s lives if they were involved in a collision. Red Xs are always displayed for a reason so it’s just not worth the risk of ignoring them.”

A few weeks ago, statistics showed that 25 percent of RAC members have driven under a red ‘X’ sign on smart motorways.

Is this the slowest motorway in the UK?

Is this the slowest motorway in the UK?

Is this the slowest motorway in the UK?

A stretch of motorway in Bristol is having average speed cameras installed, and they’re permanently set to hit drivers with fines if they stray over 40mph.

It’s part of a project to extend a bus lane along the M32 heading into Bristol, allowing a new express bus service, Metrobus, to be introduced.

South Gloucestershire Council’s head of transport, Chris Sane, told the BBC: “We will have much quicker, much more reliable journeys for Metrobus.”

The council says Metrobus will use a combination of segregated busways and bus lanes to provide fast and efficient public transport to people in the Bristol area.

The speed limits along the M32 are being imposed by Highways England. It will be reduced to 30mph while the work is carried out, before being increased to 40mph when the bus lane has been extended.

“It does still provide an essential function for people coming in to Bristol but it is important that we have speeds that are appropriate for the safety of road users,” added Sane.

M6 Toll charges could be scrapped to combat congestion

M6 Toll charges could be scrapped to combat congestion

M6 Toll charges could be scrapped to combat congestion

An MP has branded the M6 Toll a ‘rich person’s motorway’ in the House of Commons and called for charges to be dropped when required in a bid to reduce congestion on nearby motorways.

It comes after a serious crash in February left the M6 closed for 24 hours, resulting in chaos on nearby roads.

The issue was debated in the House of Commons after Solihull MP Julian Knight made the suggestion that toll charges should be dropped in situations like this.

He said: “If the M6 toll is to serve the best interests of the West Midlands and our economy as it was built to, we must see fundamental reform of how it operates, especially during gridlock and crisis situations.”

It’s already possible for the M6 Toll to be opened to the public for free when required, but owner Midlands Expressway demands a payment of £300,000 per day plus VAT – meaning it’s never actually happened. The cost of the incident in February to the local economy caused by traffic issues was estimated to exceed £40 million.

The 27-mile stretch of motorway costs £5.50 for car drivers on weekdays, dropping to £4.80 at weekends and £3.80 at night.

Knight added: “We should also consider lowering the day-to-day costs of the M6 Toll.”

MPs recently called for the Government to buy the M6 Toll and reduce the fees faced by the 50,000 drivers who use it every year.

M6 and M6 Toll

M6 Toll for sale: should the government buy a motorway?

M6 and M6 TollThe M6 Toll motorway has been put up for sale by the banks that own it – for a reported asking price of almost £2 billion.

This is to recover £1.9 billion of debts from the perennially loss-making motorway, which cost £900 million to build (a figure that was privately funded) and is said to lose around £25 million a year.

That’s despite charging car drivers a weekday flat fee of £5.50 to use it; HGVs pay £11 to avoid M6 congestion.

The 27-mile toll motorway, which first opened in 2003, is used by around 50,000 vehicles a year, compared to the 200,000 vehicles that pass through the ‘free’ M6 spaghetti junction.

And it is this stark under-utilisation, coupled with regular gridlock around the rest of the West Midlands motorway network, that is leading calls for the government to nationalise the M6 Toll motorway.

‘Buy the M6 Toll’

“This is a once in a generation opportunity to take this asset into public ownership and make it possible for it to work more effectively for the West Midlands and the rest of the UK,” Conservative MP Gavin Williamson told regional paper the Express & Star.

“Potentially you could still charge to use it, but at a much lower rate that makes it possible for more people to use it regularly, creating a far higher rate of usage than at present.”

And although the West Midlands already has lots of free motorways, including the M5, M6, M40 and M42, Williamson said opening up the M6 Toll would be a worthwhile investment that would “transform the situation and improve the way the motorway network works for the people of the West Midlands.

“We don’t have a lack of motorways in the West Midlands, what we have is a motorway that is massively under used.”


Motorway at night

Motor-no-way: 1 in 5 Brits steer clear

Motorway at nightAlthough they’re statistically Britain’s safest roads, motorways still strike fear into millions of British motorists, with a new survey revealing 22% of the nation’s 38 million drivers rarely use them.

The overwhelming reason, according to the analysis by the RAC? For nearly 7 in 10, it’s the speed at which traffic travels at: over half say this means they feel more at risk of being in an accident.

The statistics disagree: motorways carry 21% of British road traffic, yet account for 5.4% of road fatalities and less than 5% of injured road casualties.

“Despite motorways statistically being some of our safest roads, many people still seem to rely on partners, friends and family when they need to use one,” said the RAC’s Simon Williams.

“The message to them has to be: with the right instruction and advice, plenty of care and practice, confidence in motorway driving can easily grow.”

But there is another significant reason for not using motorways: 32% feel they’re simply too boring…

British motorway facts

  • There are 2,300 miles of motorway in Britain
  • They carry 21% of all traffic in Britain
  • In the year to September 2015, 65.4 billion miles were driven on British motorways
  • That’s an all-time high figure – and 2% up on 2014: yes, motorways are getting busier
  • Of the 1,775 fatalities on British roads in 2014, 96 occurred on a motorway
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