The Anonymous Widower

Can Park-And-Ride Stations Be Used To Increase Motorway Capacity?

This article on the BBC is entitled New Smart Motorway Plans Being Scrapped.

I’ve never driven or even been driven on a smart motorway. But one incident in the 1970s, convinced me that we should have full hard shoulders on motorways and probably some dual carriageway roads.

I was travelling North on the then-two-lane M11 just North of Stansted Airport, doing around seventy in the outside lane of a not very busy motorway.

From nowhere an MGB convertible  appeared in my mirrors and I pulled over to let the other car through.

There was a slight bend to the right at that point and the road was in a cutting.

The MGB just went straight on, climbed the banking and then turned over and rolled down and into the middle of the motorway.

A couple of other cars stopped on the hard shoulder and I initially pulled in behind them.

Miraculously, the driver had got out of the upside-down MGB and was standing beside the car.

I noticed that someone was using the emergency telephone by the side of the motorway, but I was worried that someone could come along too fast.

So as I had a large white car, I switched on the hazard lights and reversed down the hard shoulder. It certainly slowed everybody down and there were no more bumps or injuries. But what would have happened if the motorway had been busy?

When I first heard that smart motorways were going to be introduced in 2007, I was immediately against the idea because of that serious incident on the M11.

So what can we do to increase the capacity of our motorway and main road network?

Mathematical Modelling

In the 1970s, my software was used to model water supply in the UK. This piece of software just solved simultaneous differential equations and was used by the Government’s Water Resources Board.

I believe that software like I wrote fifty years ago and other more modern systems can be applied to traffic flows.

This should mean that any solutions put forward should be able to be tested.

Use Of Trains

If people can be encouraged to mode-shift and use trains, that must reduce the number of cars on the motorways.

But to get people out of their cars, there must be more Park-and-Ride stations.

And these new Park-and-Ride stations, must be attractive to motorists.

In Was Baldrick An Essex Man?, I looked at the design of the new Beaulieu Park station.

I feel that this is almost a new type of Park-and-Ride station, so is it part of a cunning plan to attract more passengers to the trains.

  • It has a high-quality specification.
  • Seven-hundred parking spaces will be built with hopefully an adequate number of chargers for electric vehicles.
  • There will be five-hundred bicycle spaces.
  • As it appears the station will be surrounded by 14,000 houses, I expect Network Rail are hoping lots of passengers will use the station.

But what is most unusual is that the station has an avoiding line, which should increase capacity and speed on the line through the station.

I also think, that the station is not just about journeys to London and Chelmsford, but also to other places in East Anglia like Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich.

So have Network Rail designed a station that will maximise the return on their investment?

Only time will tell!


I think that Network Rail are trying to see if there is money to be made in the design of Park-and-Ride stations.

April 21, 2023 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , ,

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