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Hard shoulder trial proves a winner with motorists

Six out of 10 motorists using the Highways Agency's hard shoulder running trial in the West Midlands want to see it rolled out across the UK, it was revealed last week.
A survey of more than 1,000 motorists has shown that 84% are confident about using the hard shoulder as a running lane and 60% want to see the system introduced elsewhere. Only 2% said they avoided using it.The Highways Agency launched its £100M Active Traffic Management (ATM) pilot on a 17km stretch of the M42 in September last year (NCE 28 September 2006). Drivers using this stretch can now be directed to the hard shoulder at times of peak congestion by electronic signs above the carriageway. Speed limits are also controlled by overhead signs.Five months on and the Agency has found that peak flows have increased by 13% and that journey times in the evening rush hour have reduced by 20%.The figures were revealed by the Agency's head of ATM David Grant at NCE's Practical Strategies for Congestion Reduction conference in London last week.'The early results of hard shoulder running are very promising,' said Grant. 'Journey times are higher, but journey time variability is generally reduced.'In summary, ATM helps alleviate congestion, reduce delays and is not as expensive as widening,' he said.Widening the M42 would have cost five times as much as introducing ATM and taken much longer to bring in.Grant added that the M42 pilot will be monitored until 2008 to develop a business case for ATM as well as to inform further roll-out.Official figures covering the first six months of operation will be published in the summer.

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