Hard shoulders opens on busy M6 by Birmingham

image captionThe scheme comes after its introduction on the M42

Drivers are now able to use the hard shoulders on one of the busiest stretches of motorway in England.

Roads Minister Mike Penning is to open officially the latest traffic management programme from junctions eight to 10a on the M6 near Birmingham.

The hard shoulders on the junction 10 slip roads are now full-time lanes, the Highways Agency said.

Using hard shoulders during peak times has reduced accidents rates and journey times, government figures show.

The 6.7-mile (10.8km) scheme on the M6 follows decisions to allow drivers to use the hard shoulder on two other stretches of the motorway network in the West Midlands.

'Additional capacity'

Mr Penning said accidents had more than halved since hard-shoulder running was introduced on a 10-mile stretch of the M42 between junctions 3a and seven.

Journey times have also improved between the M40 at junction 16, near Lapworth in Warwickshire and junction five of the M6, near Birmingham, the spokesman added.

"The government is committed to delivering transport projects which improve journeys and help economic growth so I am pleased to open England's newest hard shoulder running scheme," the minister said.

"This will provide much needed additional capacity - easing congestion and making journey times more reliable for road users, including hauliers and commuters - on this vital national transport spine.

"I am also pleased to announce that research being published today confirms this system for increasing capacity significantly reduces accidents and reduces journey times."

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