Highways England completed the “biggest ever upgrade of the M6” in Cheshire earlier this year, and figures from the first few months of operation show that peak-time drivers are now travelling up to 15 miles per hour faster than before work started.
Drivers travelling towards Crewe after 9am and leaving the office after 6pm are seeing the biggest improvement to their journeys, according to Highways England, saving more than eight minutes along the 19-mile route every day.
Commuters working a nine-to-five shift near Manchester are also spending over 30 minutes less time on the road each week.
They are now able to travel at an average speed of 66 miles per hour on their way home from work – 15 miles per hour faster than before work started on the upgrade.
Initial statistics from the first three months following the M6 smart motorway’s completion also show that the number of collisions along the route has fallen by around 30 per cent.
Earlier this week it came to light that a Highways England report written in 2016 found that breaking down in a live lane on an all-lane-running motorway was 216 per cent more dangerous than doing so on a conventional one.
Highways England insists that the latest generation of smart motorways have helped to improve safety by at least 25 per cent.
Mike Bull, Highways England’s smart motorways senior manager in the north-west, said: “Tens of thousands of drivers use the M6 every day to travel to and from work and this latest research shows that the extra lanes and new technology we’ve introduced are making a massive difference to people’s journeys.
“The motorway upgrade means businesses are also benefiting from quicker and more reliable journeys through Cheshire – supporting the regional and national economy.
“We’ll be starting work on several similar major motorway upgrades over the next few years and hope drivers will bear with us in anticipation of the long-term benefits these projects will bring.”
Highways England completed the £255 million project to upgrade the M6 between Crewe and Knutsford in March 2019 – the most significant change since the M6 first opened in the county in 1963.
A fourth lane has been introduced in each direction and a total of 258 electronic signs, 104 traffic sensors and 70 CCTV cameras are helping to tackle congestion and improve journey times for around 120,000 drivers every day.
Construction work is currently taking place on a similar upgrade of the M62 near Warrington, and preliminary work is also due to start later this year on the stretch of the M62 over the Pennines which links the North West to Yorkshire.
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