Transport secretary Ruth Kelly has outlined how hard shoulder running will be rolled-out across the UK to tackle road congestion, following successful trials on the M42. Special lanes for full cars could be the next development.
The Deaprtment for Transport said their feasibility study into extending hard shoulder running had identified 800 lane km, including large sections of the M1, M6 and M62 for hard shoulder running, in addition to, "the M27 around Southampton, the M4/M5 near Bristol and sections of the M23, M20, M3 and M4 that feed into the M25," according to the DfT.
Ruth Kelly said: "The measures I've outlined today will tackle congestion in our towns, cities and on the motorways in a creative way which will be a win-win for the motorist.
"But experience shows that new road capacity has to be properly managed if it is not to simply fill up.
"There is a compelling argument for car-share or charged lanes, which have been used for some time in the US. In order to get maximum benefit, access to car-share lanes is limited to vehicles carrying passengers, or single drivers willing to pay a toll. I intend to explore the possibility for taking a similar approach here where we are adding new capacity," she said.
Hard shoulder running may come in conjunction with safety and capacity features such as crawler lanes, car share lanes and charged lanes.
Kelly pledged to extend Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) funding for local congestion schemes up to £200M per year for an extra four years to 2018/19, and promised to make a decision on congestion proposals from Manchester and Cambridgeshire "as soon as we can."
For local authorities, Kelly said many are, "already considering whether local road pricing, coupled with investment in public transport, could help them cut congestion. The extra funding I'm announcing today shows the Government's commitment to funding these schemes over the longer term and I hope that more local authorities will bring forward proposals for consideration."
Liberal Democrat Shadow Transport Secretary, Norman Baker said: "This is a complete dog's dinner of a policy.
"A national road pricing scheme to replace other road taxes is undoubtedly the way forward, but this latest fudge from ministers will please nobody.
"It confuses the purpose of a hard shoulder, which we have been told for decades exists for safety reasons. Now it will become partly pay-if-you-want, partly share-if-you-want and partly for emergency vehicles.
"Instead of investing properly in our public transport system and shifting to fairer and greener taxation, Ruth Kelly is dodging the issue and produced this total mess of a proposal."