Beeching Plan 2021: roads to close

LSWR Cavalier

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Perhaps this should be under speculation, mods feel free to move it.

Beeching closing railways is often mentioned here, but what about a Beeching Road report, identifying roads that could be closed? Drove by Shrewsbury and Worcester recently after a few years absence, both seem to have bypasses to the bypass and endless relief and distributor roads, incessant roundabouts, the bypasses are often much longer.

My first suggestion for closure could be the Newbury bypass. I used to drive through Newbury before it was built, it was not bad to have to slow down for a while. The new bypass makes a huge loop and adds a lot of distance. At least, it must be time to stop building even more roads and widening existing ones. I understand the thesis 'new roads = more traffic' is widely accepted.

I used to drive a lot, for work and leisure, in case anyone asks.

My take on this is: use of resources and land should be restricted. I worked in logistics too, so I know a bit about shuttling stuff back and forth because doing so is easy and cheap.

Another one to unbuild could be the A55, looks like it should be carrying a lot less traffic to and from Ireland, ferries are picking up business direct from Ireland to France.
 
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Ianno87

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If "rationalisation" is on the cards, reduction of the section of the A1(M) between Alconbury and Peterborough from 4 lanes to 3. It was ridiculously over-specified!
 

ABB125

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If "rationalisation" is on the cards, reduction of the section of the A1(M) between Alconbury and Peterborough from 4 lanes to 3. It was ridiculously over-specified!
Apparently it was built that way because it was some sort of PFI-type deal, and the traffic forecasts suggested that 4 lanes may be necessary something like 20 years into the (I think 25-year) contract. Rather than face a costly, disruptive upgrade near the end of the contract, the builder decided to build 4 lanes from the start. (I could be wrong, that's just what I've heard.)
What I've never understood about this bit is why the 4th lane ends at the junction before Peterborough; you would have thought it might make sense for the lane drop to be taken by the nice flyover into Peterborough, but what do I know... :D The main reason I can think of is that the A1(not-M) beyond is only 2 lanes, so a double lane-drop for Peterborough may be excessive (or "too confusing for the drivers" :rolleyes:).
 

Ianno87

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Apparently it was built that way because it was some sort of PFI-type deal, and the traffic forecasts suggested that 4 lanes may be necessary something like 20 years into the (I think 25-year) contract. Rather than face a costly, disruptive upgrade near the end of the contract, the builder decided to build 4 lanes from the start. (I could be wrong, that's just what I've heard.)
What I've never understood about this bit is why the 4th lane ends at the junction before Peterborough; you would have thought it might make sense for the lane drop to be taken by the nice flyover into Peterborough, but what do I know... :D The main reason I can think of is that the A1(not-M) beyond is only 2 lanes, so a double lane-drop for Peterborough may be excessive (or "too confusing for the drivers" :rolleyes:).

Or is it some sort of consideration (now probably unlikely) of the continuing A1 to be upgraded to 3 lanes in future?

The rapid change in the quality of the road from high spec 4 lane motorway to twisty 2 lane dual carriageway in the practical blink of an eye is almost comical!
 

Mcr Warrior

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The rapid change in the quality of the road from high spec 4 lane motorway to twisty 2 lane dual carriageway in the practical blink of an eye is almost comical!
The A830 from near Fort William into Mallaig is similarly a bit variable in standard.
 

Bletchleyite

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Or is it some sort of consideration (now probably unlikely) of the continuing A1 to be upgraded to 3 lanes in future?

The rapid change in the quality of the road from high spec 4 lane motorway to twisty 2 lane dual carriageway in the practical blink of an eye is almost comical!

I've always found it surprising that the A1 (and for that matter A55) have been piecemeal upgraded in that way, but that other motorways were mostly new-build.
 

squizzler

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If "rationalisation" is on the cards, reduction of the section of the A1(M) between Alconbury and Peterborough from 4 lanes to 3. It was ridiculously over-specified!
If driverless cars were ever to become a practical reality, the efficiency of centralised control means that most multi-lane highways could be reduced to a single pair of running lanes. Housing estate streets and rural lanes could be singled over long stretches because the mainframe running the show would effectively issue electronic tokens for each section.
 

Ianno87

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I suppose some local LTNs (Low Traffic Neighborhoods) recently implemented would qualify. Although not so much reduction of roadspace as reallocation to other users. And, despite a few whining motorists, most have not cause any material traffic issues.
 

30907

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The rapid change in the quality of the road from high spec 4 lane motorway to twisty 2 lane dual carriageway in the practical blink of an eye is almost comical!
Which is perhaps why it is split over two junctions. Norman Cross used to be the main junction for Peterborough, and there is still a fair amount of traffic that uses it rather than the next one at Fletton Parkway.
 

Bletchleyite

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I think the thing about roads is that you don't actually need to close them to realise savings, just cut maintenance costs. Roads are passive, and so if hardly anyone uses them they just sit there waiting for someone who wants to. You don't need signallers etc.

There are odd exceptions, such as when a road is hit by too many landslips etc to make keeping it open economic - the Mam Tor road is a fascinating example.

Only in big cities like London do land values make it worth buying a road to build on rather than just a bit of neighbouring farmer's field. But in London you need the roads as they're so busy - and not all private cars.
 

ABB125

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Or is it some sort of consideration (now probably unlikely) of the continuing A1 to be upgraded to 3 lanes in future?

The rapid change in the quality of the road from high spec 4 lane motorway to twisty 2 lane dual carriageway in the practical blink of an eye is almost comical!
Unfortunately I've never (yet) driven along that bit of a A1, but I can imagine foreign drivers unfamiliar with Britain's "interesting" approach to roads might get slightly confused...
As for further upgrades, the only bit I can envisage is the short non-motorway bit north of Doncaster. And even if it becomes 3 lanes, I'd be very surprised if it was upgraded motorway classification (because if the new A14 and forthcoming Lower Thames Crossing don't get a blue line, what hope is there for the A1?).
 

biko

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For reducing externalities, it would generally be best to have bypasses and make a route through a town unattractive. Less people are then having pollution, noise etc at their doorstep. But of course, this all depends on local circumstances.
 

Bletchleyite

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For reducing externalities, it would generally be best to have bypasses and make a route through a town unattractive. Less people are then having pollution, noise etc at their doorstep. But of course, this all depends on local circumstances.

One example of an utterly pointless bypass is Bicester. It's very quiet, and no wonder - driving through the middle is considerably quicker as the bypass takes a very long route (and was even before it was built).

I wonder was it planning gain from Bicester Village that funded it, perhaps? As otherwise it was an incredibly poor use of money.
 

biko

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One example of an utterly pointless bypass is Bicester. It's very quiet, and no wonder - driving through the middle is considerably quicker as the bypass takes a very long route (and was even before it was built).

I wonder was it planning gain from Bicester Village that funded it, perhaps? As otherwise it was an incredibly poor use of money.
It has a reason why I said generally ;). Bypasses work if they are quicker, so if the road they are bypassing is congested or if the speed limit is significantly higher than the alternative to compensate for the longer distance.

I had a quick look at Bicester on Google Maps and it shows similar travel times for both options, so people will indeed choose for the shorter option, especially if they're local. The through road seems to touch the town centre and not go right through it, which can explain why it isn't that congested (also not major traffic generators on both ends of the road). If they really want to reduce traffic in the centre, I would suggest making Queens Ave less attractive as a through road or even ban traffic on it, then the time differential increases and the ring road gets some use.
 

A Challenge

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One example of an utterly pointless bypass is Bicester. It's very quiet, and no wonder - driving through the middle is considerably quicker as the bypass takes a very long route (and was even before it was built).

I wonder was it planning gain from Bicester Village that funded it, perhaps? As otherwise it was an incredibly poor use of money.
The main useless part of the Bicester Ring Road appears to me to be the West side (B4030 and A4095), which would be used between Oxford and Buckingham (though I see that is expected to go via M40/A43/A421), I can only assume that A41 through traffic is meant to use the A41, given the cut-through for eastbound traffic on the roundabout outside Bicester Village.
 

Shimbleshanks

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I can think of a couple. The M45, effectively bypassed when the M6 was extended on a parallel route through the Midlands. The M6 Toll seems very under-utilised whenever I've been on it.
Meanwhile, here's an example of what was once a reasonably busy and wide trunk two-lane road gradually returning to nature. It was once part of the main road from the Chester area to North wales (probably the A55) that was superseded by a new dual-carriageway.
 

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busesrusuk

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Unfortunately I've never (yet) driven along that bit of a A1, but I can imagine foreign drivers unfamiliar with Britain's "interesting" approach to roads might get slightly confused...
As for further upgrades, the only bit I can envisage is the short non-motorway bit north of Doncaster. And even if it becomes 3 lanes, I'd be very surprised if it was upgraded motorway classification (because if the new A14 and forthcoming Lower Thames Crossing don't get a blue line, what hope is there for the A1?).
I can see more bits of the A1 becoming the A1(M), simply because its an existing road. My understanding of the A14 is that much of it is on a completely new alignment, built to full motorway standard but politics prevent it being given "M" status.

If you're into motorways this site is a good place to read all about the development of the UK motorway network:
Motorway Database | Roads.org.uk

Specific article about the A14:
The missing (M) | Roads.org.uk
 

ABB125

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I can see more bits of the A1 becoming the A1(M), simply because its an existing road. My understanding of the A14 is that much of it is on a completely new alignment, built to full motorway standard but politics prevent it being given "M" status.

If you're into motorways this site is a good place to read all about the development of the UK motorway network:
Motorway Database | Roads.org.uk

Specific article about the A14:
The missing (M) | Roads.org.uk
Thanks - yes, I agree it's entirely due to politics. "Motorway" is now considered a bad word, so we just have to make do with motorways in all but name!
 

SargeNpton

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My first suggestion for closure could be the Newbury bypass. I used to drive through Newbury before it was built, it was not bad to have to slow down for a while. The new bypass makes a huge loop and adds a lot of distance. At least, it must be time to stop building even more roads and widening existing ones. I understand the thesis 'new roads = more traffic' is widely accepted.

I used to drive a lot, for work and leisure, in case anyone asks.
I'm sure that the residents of Newbury would appreciate the extra number of HGVs passing through each day.

Bypasses have two purposes - to make it easier for through traffic and to ease congestion for the locals.
 

Ianno87

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I can see more bits of the A1 becoming the A1(M), simply because its an existing road. My understanding of the A14 is that much of it is on a completely new alignment, built to full motorway standard but politics prevent it being given "M" status.

The Development Consent Order for the A14 was as an A-Road (I think, formally, an "All Purpose Road)

There was a last minute decision to try and re-designate it as an "Expressway", as the A14(M).

However, that required a change to the scheme's Development Consent Order that would have delayed opening. That was impractical, as the Huntingdon bypass part of the road needed to be closed before Christmas 2019 to tie in with the first Network Rail possessions to dismantle the overbridge at Huntingdon on the old A14 alignment.

Therefore it wasn't progressed.

Makes no actual difference reality; 3 lanes, 70mph, hard shoulders/laybys, fully grade separated, traffic management. To all intents and purposes, it is a motorway, just with green signs rather than blue ones.
 

busesrusuk

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The Development Consent Order for the A14 was as an A-Road (I think, formally, an "All Purpose Road)

There was a last minute decision to try and re-designate it as an "Expressway", as the A14(M).

However, that required a change to the scheme's Development Consent Order that would have delayed opening. That was impractical, as the Huntingdon bypass part of the road needed to be closed before Christmas 2019 to tie in with the first Network Rail possessions to dismantle the overbridge at Huntingdon on the old A14 alignment.

Therefore it wasn't progressed.

Makes no actual difference reality; 3 lanes, 70mph, hard shoulders/laybys, fully grade separated, traffic management. To all intents and purposes, it is a motorway, just with green signs rather than blue ones.
The same situation exists with the top end of the A3 from the Hook underpass (going south) - motorway standard but still just plain old A3..
 

Doctor Fegg

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One example of an utterly pointless bypass is Bicester. It's very quiet, and no wonder - driving through the middle is considerably quicker as the bypass takes a very long route (and was even before it was built).
There's masses of housing development planned for Bicester, and in particular the NW Bicester "Eco Town" which will mostly be to the west of the A4095 western bypass. There's also the new Graven Hill development to the southeast. The travails of the London Road level crossing in the centre of town are well known.

Basically, if Bicester didn't have roads in those places already, they'd be under construction right now.
 

ABB125

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The Development Consent Order for the A14 was as an A-Road (I think, formally, an "All Purpose Road)

There was a last minute decision to try and re-designate it as an "Expressway", as the A14(M).

However, that required a change to the scheme's Development Consent Order that would have delayed opening. That was impractical, as the Huntingdon bypass part of the road needed to be closed before Christmas 2019 to tie in with the first Network Rail possessions to dismantle the overbridge at Huntingdon on the old A14 alignment.

Therefore it wasn't progressed.

Makes no actual difference reality; 3 lanes, 70mph, hard shoulders/laybys, fully grade separated, traffic management. To all intents and purposes, it is a motorway, just with green signs rather than blue ones.
I seem to remember reading somewhere that there was more than one change of heart regarding motorway classification. Plus at one point there was the possibility of it being a toll road! That A14 upgrade has certainly had an interesting history... :D
 

Snow1964

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The Development Consent Order for the A14 was as an A-Road (I think, formally, an "All Purpose Road)

There was a last minute decision to try and re-designate it as an "Expressway", as the A14(M).

However, that required a change to the scheme's Development Consent Order that would have delayed opening. That was impractical, as the Huntingdon bypass part of the road needed to be closed before Christmas 2019 to tie in with the first Network Rail possessions to dismantle the overbridge at Huntingdon on the old A14 alignment.

Therefore it wasn't progressed.

Makes no actual difference reality; 3 lanes, 70mph, hard shoulders/laybys, fully grade separated, traffic management. To all intents and purposes, it is a motorway, just with green signs rather than blue ones.

There were a few like that, I believe the A120 had provision to be upgraded to a Harwich - Oxford motorway, and some of the bypasses that were built about 30 years ago opened as single carriageways but the alignment and bridges were built for a 3+3 lane motorway
 

davetheguard

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My first suggestion for closure could be the Newbury bypass.

I've always called it the Newbury bypass bypass, as Newbury already had a dual carriageway bypass that had been built to relieve the medieval/Victorian road system, but had been built within the town itself rather than round the outside of it.

Winchester is even worse, where the bypass is actually the bypass, bypass, bypass.

Which just shows why building new roads has been likened to digging trenches in a waterlogged field; there is so much unfulfilled demand that they just fill up straight away; they don't relieve congestion, because they just generate new traffic.

So, "yes" to a road Beeching, but only if you give people a choice to use good, affordable, public transport -and encourage them to use it- instead.
 

Bletchleyite

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Makes no actual difference reality; 3 lanes, 70mph, hard shoulders/laybys, fully grade separated, traffic management. To all intents and purposes, it is a motorway, just with green signs rather than blue ones.

Cycling permitted I guess? Not that you'd want to. The A5D (diversionary - not an official moniker though I think the Commission for the New Towns did use it) through MK is similar.
 

packermac

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I can think of a couple. The M45, effectively bypassed when the M6 was extended on a parallel route through the Midlands. The M6 Toll seems very under-utilised whenever I've been on it.
Meanwhile, here's an example of what was once a reasonably busy and wide trunk two-lane road gradually returning to nature. It was once part of the main road from the Chester area to North wales (probably the A55) that was superseded by a new dual-carriageway.
As Jasper Carrott once said the purpose of the M6 Toll road is so rich people can watch poor people stuck in a jam on the M6
 

ABB125

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Cycling permitted I guess? Not that you'd want to. The A5D (diversionary - not an official moniker though I think the Commission for the New Towns did use it) through MK is similar.
No, it's a "special road" - ie: motorway restrictions, just not a motorway (which it should be!). See the restrictions board here:

Funnily enough, there's no need to spend lots of money on these signs at each junction if the main signs are blue... :D

There were a few like that, I believe the A120 had provision to be upgraded to a Harwich - Oxford motorway, and some of the bypasses that were built about 30 years ago opened as single carriageways but the alignment and bridges were built for a 3+3 lane motorway
Interesting - that's made me curious enough to have a look on Google Streetview! :D

A few examples I've found:
The A120 Great Dunmow bypass - space for an extra lane. See here and here. I think this bit is only 10 years old or so, which makes it all the more surprising that extra provision was made. The provision seems to be all the way from this bridge to near Braintree here.
The two bridges over the A133 west of Weeley Heath (I know it's not the A120, but it's one of the two routes the A120 splits into east of Colchester), such as this one. Space for another carriageway.
 
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