The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has welcomed yesterday's announcement that the Government will improve the key M1 Catthorpe Interchange, near Rugby, as part of its £6 billion package of investment in the strategic roads network. However, the leading trade body is keen to learn how these improvements are to be implemented and hopes that previous suggestions for an 'all movements' solution are realised.
FTA's Head of Policy for the Midlands, Stephen Kelly, said: “Geoff Hoon's announcement is great news for transport in the West Midlands, but as ever the Devil is in the detail. We really hope that ministers have listened to FTA's concerns and those of its members and will implement what is really the only practical and viable solution to the Catthorpe Interchange, an 'all movements' option.
“We are confident this is the best way to improve performance, reduce fuel costs and, potentially, save lives.”
The Catthorpe Interchange is a notorious traffic blackspot and it is hoped that a fly-over would remove incidents of vehicles exiting the M6 to access the A14 by cutting in front of other drivers on the M6 slip road.
As well as saving lives, improvements to the Catthorpe Interchange might also save commercial vehicle operators substantial sums of money as, if the FTA-approved 'all movements' plan is adopted, vehicles travelling to the industrial estates just south of M1 junction 19, notably to Daventry, will not then have to travel to Junction 1 of the M6 and then double back for Daventry. This will cut fuel costs and reduce unnecessary emissions.
The 'all movements' option will enable vehicles to move in all directions between the M1, M6 and A14 and allow vehicles to travel between the A14 and M1 southbound in both directions. There are a significant number of HGVs that use the A14 westbound and with the projected growth of container traffic at the port of Felixstowe, this has made it more imperative.
Other improvements to road transport in the West Midlands will come in the form of further expansion of the Active Traffic Management system. This has already been proven to help reduce congestion and improve reliability by encompassing variable speed limits and hard shoulder running (providing a running lane during peak hours, drivers needing to make emergency stops can pull into emergency refuge areas every 500 metres).