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M6 Motorway: Speed Limit

Volume 588: debated on Wednesday 1 April 1998

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asked Her Majesty's Government:Why there is a 50 mph limit on the M.77 and M.8 motorways as they go through Glasgow but no such urban motorway restriction on the M.6 motorway as it goes through Birmingham. [HL1224]

I have asked the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency to write to the noble Lord.

Letter to Lord Rowallan from the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, Mr. L. Haynes, dated 1 April 1998.

The Minister for Roads, Baroness Hayman, has asked me to reply to your Question about the different speed limits in operation on the M.6 motorway in England and the M.77 and M.8 motorways in Scotland.

The Scottish Office is responsible for motorways and trunk roads in Scotland, whereas the Highways Agency is responsible for the operation of the motorway and trunk road network in England. Colleagues in the Scottish Office have advised that the M.8/M.77 passes through the centre of Glasgow and that it was designed to cater for the needs of urban traffic. The junctions are less than a kilometre apart in some places and bends are tighter than those found on present day motorways. The 50 mph speed limit is therefore necessary to ensure the safety of road users where traffic is constantly joining or leaving the motorway through the city.

In contrast, the M.6 motorway, to the north of Birmingham, was designed to 1970s motorway standards. The junctions are farther apart and consequently a 70 mph limit is more appropriate. There are times, though, when the very heavy flows of traffic lead to severe congestion. We are currently considering the possibility of adopting controlled motorway technology, similar to that already in use on parts of the M.25, so that the maximum permitted speed can be varied to make best use of the network.

I hope this is helpful.