MP’s raise safety concerns about smart motorways such as the M20 from Hollingbourne to London.

Kent MP Tracey Crouch and other MP’s have raised concerns about the introduction of smart motorways including the M20 from Junction 8 in Hollingbourne towards London. Just now it seems that accidents are happening daily on the sections of the M20 where work is being done in anticipation of the launch of a smart M20. A report from BBC News appears below. 

The rollout of smart motorways, where the hard shoulder has been permanently converted into a fourth lane, should be stopped, a group of MPs says.
The all-party group backed campaigners who say having no hard shoulder puts motorists and recovery workers at risk.
England has more than 100 miles (161km) of All Lane Running (ALR) smart motorways, with 225 miles more planned.
MP Tracey Crouch said the rollout should be paused, but Highways England said ALR smart motorways were safe.
Smart motorways work by using the hard shoulder as a fourth lane, with variable speed limits to control the flow of traffic.

Safety advice from Highways England appears below.

What to do if you break down on a smart motorway?
 Use an emergency refuge area if possible
 If possible, leave your vehicle safely, and ring Highways England
 If you can, drive your vehicle as close to the nearside verge or the nearside boundary as possible
 Always, switch on your hazard warning lights.
 If you can’t get out of your vehicle safely, or there is nowhere of relative safety to wait, stay in your vehicle with your seat belt on and dial 999
Source: Highways England

More information is at https://highwaysengland.co.uk/advice-for-recovery-operators-on-highways-englands-smart-motorway-network/

However Highways England do not as yet appear to have published any safety information for Operation Brock which will use the M20 in the other direction from Hollingbourne to Ashford at Junction 9. The coastbound side of the motorway will be used to store 2000 lorries awaiting Customs at Dover and Eurotunnel if Brexit actually happens and the UK leaves the Customs Union and Single Market on 29th March 2019.

The 13 mile London bound side from Ashford to Hollingbourne has been dualled with a barrier down the middle so that non-lorry traffic can go in the two outside lanes towards the coast and the inside lane and hard shoulder can be used for London bound traffic. The London two lane London bound side is already in use and accidents are frequent because of the narrowness of the lanes with the result that traffic jams have occurred which cause a backlog on local roads. The current 60 mph speed limit is to continue.

No safety advice information has been published so far with regard to the procedure after accidents on the two lane coast bound middle section where drivers will be hemmed in by the London bound lanes on one side and the lorry park on the other. The use of every lane on the Motorway could create access problems for emergency vehicles such as ambulances.

During Operation Stack in 2015 lorry traffic was split so that Dover traffic went in the outside lane and Eurotunnel vehicles went in the nearside lane so that the central lane could be used by the Police and other emergency vehicles. Kent County Council provided portaloos for the drivers who were stuck on the motorway and the cost was picked up by Kent Council tax-payers.

Pictured below is the M20 at Hollingbourne.

Top – looking towards Junction 8 with the two lane London bound carriageway in use and the proposed middle coast bound section empty. On the right is the coast bound section which will used to store lorries after a “no deal” Brexit. 

The M20 at Hollingbourne looking towards Junction 8. Non lorry coastbound traffic will cross over the centre section on the other side of the Junction 8 for Operation Brock.

Bottom – The M20 in the other direction during Operation Stack in 2015 when the lorries were spilt between Dover and Eurotunnel which left the centre lane free for the Police and emergency services.

Operation Stack at Hollingbourne in June 2015.