All lane running Contents


72.Highways England claim that the capacity improvements obtained from use of all lane running cost 60% less than traditional motorway widening, and are 40% more cost efficient than only using the hard shoulder at peak times. Overall, this particular claim has not been challenged in the written and oral evidence given to the inquiry.

73.Traditional motorway widening is extremely expensive and disruptive. There is generally no hard shoulder while construction is underway. The precise costs of a motorway widening scheme will vary according to the location, due to differences in landscape, land costs, and the cost of environmental undertaking and mitigation. Traditional motorway widening is now relatively rare. To take an example, the M25 J27–30 motorway widening scheme cost £272.4 million96 in 2002 figures (the figures used in the 2014 post-project evaluation). This is roughly £16.2 million per mile.97 In 2008, in the same written answer that gave the cost of the M42 Active Traffic Management pilot at £9.0 million per mile, the estimated cost of one mile of standard 3-lane motorway with a hard shoulder was said to be between £21.4 million and £35.0 million.98 This puts the cost of traditional motorway widening, both in terms of actual construction cost and the disruption caused, far above the costs of all smart motorway schemes.

74.The M42 scheme is by far the most infrastructure-intensive of the Smart Motorway options, with significantly more gantries and variable mandatory speed limit signs than other types of scheme. It is the most expensive alternative to traditional motorway widening. According to a written answer in 2008, the M42 scheme cost £9.0 million per mile.99 This is not adjusted for current prices, which may be very different due to the global financial crisis in the intervening period, but provides a rough estimate which is less expensive than motorway widening, but more expensive that other, less infrastructure-intensive designs of Smart Motorways.

75.All Lane Running is by far the least expensive of the options given. With fewer gantries, refuge areas and signals than other models, the financial savings can be substantial. The actual and projected costs of current and future All Lane Running schemes can be found in Table 4, showing a significant saving against traditional motorway widening and the M42 Active Traffic Management pilot.

Table 4: Current and future MM-ALR schemes to 2020: Costs (actual and projected)

Scheme name

Additional lane miles


Cost per additional lane mile

M25 J5–6/7




M25 J23–27




M1 J39–42




M6 J10a–13




M1 J28–31




M1 J32–35a (2017)




M3 J2–4a (2017)




M1 J24–25 (2018)




Source:; Motorways: Written question – 29383; Motorways: Written question – 30302. In future projects, only projects where a cost has been published by Highways England have been included.

76.Cost savings are at the heart of the Department’s justification for the permanent conversion of the hard shoulder into a running lane. Andrew Jones denied that this was a design “on the cheap”, telling us that this was a key ingredient in a £15 billion national strategic road network budget over this spending period.100 The Government’s preference for All Lane Running is based on the fact that extra capacity can be obtained at a 60% lower cost than traditional road widening. The fact that All Lane Running is the least costly of the scheme designs cannot be challenged. That this involves the loss of the hard shoulder, resulting in a risk to safety, is another matter and is not justifiable.

77.We do not support the deployment of all lane running. Given that Highways England’s own risk assessments show that other forms of smart motorway are safer than All Lane Running, and still improve capacity, we recommend the design of the M42 Active Traffic Management pilot, or, less preferably, Dynamic Hard Shoulder Running as safer alternatives. The cost saving of All Lane Running cannot justify the increase in risk of certain hazards.

78.The Department would do well to decouple its thinking, and not assume that the loss of the hard shoulder is essential for the installation of a controlled environment. The “smart” in smart motorways does not come from the loss of the hard shoulder, but for motorists this is undeniably the most disturbing aspect of the changes. It could be seen as disingenuous to present this change as part and parcel of “smart” motorways. The Department cannot use a reduction in risk in some hazards to justify an increase in risk in others.

79.It is not justifiable for the Department to go ahead with a major motorway programme with only one year’s worth of safety information from the specific design that they have chosen. The All Lane Running design has been chosen on the basis of cost savings, and it is not acceptable for the Department to proceed with a less-safe design, putting people’s lives at risk, in order to cut costs.

80.We recommend an immediate halt to the rollout of All Lane Running, and that the proposed schemes be replaced by schemes based on the M42 Active Traffic Management design. That is, a design incorporating the temporary use of the hard shoulder as required, gantries spaced at a distance of 500–800 metres, and emergency refuge areas spaced at the same distance.

97 M25 Junctions 27–30 is a 16.8 mile stretch of motorway.

98 Roads: Construction, Hansard Column 1038W, 14 Oct 2008 :

99 Roads: Construction, Hansard Column 1038W, 14 Oct 2008

100 Q127 [Andrew Jones]

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15 June 2016