M6 motorway

M6 motorway

UK motorway routebox
motorway= M6
length-mi= 226.7
length-km= 364.8
direction= North - South
start= Catthorpe
destinations= Rugby
end= Carlisle
opening-date= 1958
euroroute= European route number small sign|05European route number small sign|24

:"This article concerns the M6 motorway in England. There are also M6 motorways in Russia (see Caspian Highway), Hungary (see M6 motorway (Hungary)) and the Republic of Ireland (see M6 motorway (Ireland))."

The M6 motorway is the longest motorway in the United Kingdom. It runs from a junction with the M1 near Rugby in central England, passes between Coventry and Nuneaton, through Birmingham, Walsall and Stafford and near the major cities of Wolverhampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Manchester, Liverpool, Preston and Lancaster. After the latter two cities it passes through Cumbria with some parts very close to the edge of the Lake District. The motorway has a major junction onto the M56 and M62 at Warrington, and then finishes to the north of Carlisle, close to the Scottish border.

It is often claimed to be the busiest motorway in the country, although the M25 may also lay claim to this distinction, depending on the measurement used. It is also sometimes referred to as the "Backbone of Britain" as it forms part of the central road corridor between Glasgow and London, connecting Scotland and the industrial North of England to the financial and governmental heart of the country in the South East.

From the M1 to the M6 Toll split near Birmingham, the M6 is part of the unsigned E-road erd|24. erd|5 joins the M6 Toll from the M42 and then uses the M6 to its north end at Carlisle, where it continues along the A74(M).

History and curiosities

The first section of the motorway, and the first motorway in the country, the Preston by-pass, was built by Tarmac Construction and opened by the then Prime Minister Harold Macmillan on December 5,1958 [cite web|url=http://www.cbrd.co.uk/histories/openingbooklets/pdf/prestonbypass.pdf|title=Preston Bypass Opening (Booklet)|] |publisher=CBRD|accessdate=2008-01-20|format=pdf] . In subsequent years the motorway was extended piecemeal in both directions and is now convert|230|mi|lk=on long. Junction 6 in Birmingham is widely known as Spaghetti Junction because of its complexity.

On the elevated ground between Shap and Tebay, the north and south-bound carriages split apart. At this point a local road (to Scout Green) runs between the two carriageways without a link to the motorway.

The section of the M6 which runs over Shap Fell in Cumbria is convert|1050|ft|abbr=on above sea level, one of the highest points on any motorway in the UK (junction 22 of the M62 on Saddleworth Moor is higher). The motorway engineers here chose to follow the route of the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway engineered by Joseph Locke (now part of the West Coast Main Line) where the motorway runs in a split-level cutting above the railway in the descent from Shap Fell through the Lune Gorge into southern Cumbria.

The northbound entry slip road at Lancaster (J34) is unusually short, presenting problems for traffic joining the motorway. The M6 crosses the River Lune at this point and unless the bridge had been made wider, there was no space to build a longer slip road. This junction was upgraded from an earlier emergency-vehicles-only access point, which explains the substandard design.

The route was intended to replace the old A6, but a much closer approximation to the actual route of the M6 is provided by following the route: A45, A34, A50, A49, A6.

M6 Toll

The M6 Toll, Britain's first toll motorway, was partially opened (to local traffic only) on December 9 2003 and fully opened a few days later. It bypasses the West Midlands conurbation to the east and north of Birmingham and Walsall, and was built to alleviate congestion through the West Midlands. Prior to the opening of the toll motorway, this section of the M6 carried 180,000 vehicles per day at its busiest point near Wolverhampton (between the junctions with the M54 and M5 motorways), compared with a design capacity of only 72,000 vehicles. The daytime price for a car to travel the full length of the M6 Toll increased from £3 to £3.50 on 14 June 2005 and again to £4 on 1 January 2007. It was increased further to £4.50 on 1 January 2008.

An alternative way of by-passing the congested West Midlands area (northbound) is to continue north on the M1 then take the A50 or A52.


M6 Carlisle to Guards Mill Extension

In March 2006, after a 15-year debate, [cite web|url=http://www.cbrd.co.uk/futures/upgrade/m6.shtml|title=M6 Carlisle - Gretna|work=CBRD|accessdate=2008-01-20] the government finally authorised the construction of a convert|6|mi|adj=on extension of the M6 from its present northern terminus near Carlisle to the Anglo-Scottish border at Gretna (the so-called "Cumberland Gap"), where it will link into the existing A74(M). [cite web|url=http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/projects/5069.aspx|title=M6 Carlisle to Guards Mill Extension|publisher=Highways Agency|accessdate=2008-01-20] Construction work should be complete by December 2008. [cite web|url=http://www.roadtraffic-technology.com/projects/northextension/|title=M6 North Extension, United Kingdom|work=Road Traffic Technology|accessdate=2008-01-20] The project, which will be a mixture of new road and upgrade of the existing A74, traverses the West Coast Main Line and has estimated costs of £174m. Once completed, it will provide an uninterrupted motorway from Cumbernauld (via the M73) in the north to Exeter (via the M5) in the south.

It is unclear if the numbering proposal (to change it from M74/A74(M) to M6) will go ahead, even though road signage on its southern stretches was equipped with removable "A74(M)" plates which reveal "M6" beneath it. In 1999 the predecessor Scottish Executive administration stated there were 'no plans' to renumber. The present Scottish Government has not commented further. [cite web|url=http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/pqa/wa-99/wa0713.htm|title=Scottish Parliament Written Answers|publisher=Scottish Parliament|date=1999-07-13|accessdate=2007-12-01]

Proposed developments

Increased capacity between J11a and J19

The government wishes to improve reliability and capacity between Junctions 11 by Cannock) and Junction 19 near Knutsford. In 2004, it favoured a new motorway, 'The Expressway' following a roughly parallel course to the existing M6. [cite web|url=http://www.dft.gov.uk/press/speechesstatements/statements/encouragingbetteruseofroadsa5919|title=Encouraging better use of roads and the M6|publisher=Department for Transport|accessdate=2008-01-20] In July 2006, the government announced its decision to abandon the Expressway proposal and favoured widening accompanied by demand management measurescite web|url=http://www.gnn.gov.uk/Content/Detail.asp?ReleaseID=215626&NewsAreaID=2|title=Decision on M6 upgrade announced |date=2006-06-22|publisher=Government News Network|accessdate=2008-01-20] and have launched a study to consider options for providing additional capacity. [cite web|url=http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/projects/11587.aspx|title=M6 Jct 11A - 19 (Increasing Capacity) Study|publisher=Highways Agency|accessdate=2008-01-20] The first phase of the widening could be completed by 2014, with the remaining sections following until full completion in 2017.

Hard shoulder running (junction 4-5 and 8 to 10a)

In October 2007, following a successful trial on the M42 in the West Midlands, the UK government have announced that two stretches of the M6 will be upgraded to allow the hard shoulder to be used as a normal running lane during busy conditions under a scheme called Active Traffic Management [cite web|url=http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/transport/article3096713.ece|title=Hard-shoulder scheme to go nationwide|publisher=The Independent|date=2007-10-27|accessdate=2007-01-25] . The two stretches, between junctions 4 and 5 and between junctions 10a and 8, are two of the busiest sections on the entire motorwayFact|date=January 2008. The system could also be extended onto other stretches of the M6 as the government is going to undertake a feasibility study to determine other likely locations where this technology can be used.Fact|date=January 2008

M6 motorway in culture

The M6 motorway was featured in the lyrics of Wings' 1973 single "Helen Wheels": "M6 south down Liverpool, where they play the west coast sound". The song was included in the 1973 album release of Band on the Run.

Reference to the motorway appeared in the 1975 song "Moonlighting" by Leo Sayer via the lyric "Meanwhile the Carlisle turnoff of the M6 motorway, drinking cold black coffee, eating hot cup cakes".

A reference to the M6 motorway is made in the song "Family" from the 1989 New Model Army album "Thunder and Consolation": "M6 southbound road side cafe on a wild wet windy night."

The song 'Northern', by experimental English group One More Grain describes a journey through Cumbria on the northbound carriageway of the M6 ("driving on the M6, headed north to Penrith"), mentioning many of the sites, towns and landmarks on the way e.g Sedbergh, Howgill Fells, Metal Bridge, Rockcliffe Marsh and the Solway Firth.



Each motorway in England requires that a legal document called a Statutory Instrument be published, detailing the route of the road, before it can be built. The dates given on these Statutory Instruments relate to when the document was published, and not when the road was built. Provided below is an incomplete list of the Statutory Instruments relating to the route of the M6.

* Statutory Instrument 1987 No. 252: County Council of West Midlands (M6 Motorway Junction 10) (Connecting Road) Scheme 1985 Confirmation Instrument 1987 [http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1987/Uksi_19870252_en_1.htm S.I. 1987/252]
* Statutory Instrument 1987 No. 2254: M6 Motorway (Catthorpe Interchange) Connecting Roads Scheme 1987 [http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1987/Uksi_19872254_en_1.htm S.I. 1987/2254]
* Statutory Instrument 1990 No. 2659: M6 Motorway: Widening between Junctions 20 and 21A (Thelwall Viaduct) and Connecting Roads Scheme 1990 [http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1990/Uksi_19902659_en_1.htm S.I. 1990/2659]
* Statutory Instrument 1991 No. 1873: M6 Motorway (Widening and Improvements Between Junctions 30 and 32) and Connecting Roads Scheme 1991 [http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1991/Uksi_19911873_en_1.htm S.I. 1991/1873]
* Statutory Instrument 1993 No. 1370: Lancashire County Council (Proposed Connecting Roads to M6 Motorway at Haighton) Special Roads Scheme 1992 Confirmation Instrument 1993 [http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1993/Uksi_19931370_en_1.htm S.I. 1993/1370]
* Statutory Instrument 1997 No. 1292: M6 Birmingham to Carlisle Motorway (At Haighton) Connecting Roads Scheme 1997 [http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1997/19971292.htm S.I. 1997/1292]
* Statutory Instrument 1997 No. 1293: M6 Birmingham To Carlisle Motorway (at Haighton) Special Roads Scheme 1997 Transfer Order 1997 [http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1997/19971293.htm S.I. 1997/1293]
* Statutory Instrument 1998 No. 125: The M6 Motorway (Saredon and Packington Diversions) Scheme 1998 [http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1998/19980125.htm S.I. 1998/125]

ee also

*List of motorways in the United Kingdom


External links

** [http://www.cbrd.co.uk/motorway/m6/ Motorway database - M6]
** [http://www.cbrd.co.uk/histories/openingbooklets/ Histories - opening booklets, including M6 Preston Bypass]
**Bad Junctions
*** [http://www.cbrd.co.uk/badjunctions/6-683.shtml M6/A683]
*** [http://www.cbrd.co.uk/badjunctions/6-58.shtml M6/M58]
*** [http://www.cbrd.co.uk/badjunctions/6-34.shtml M6/A34]
* [http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/environment/historichighways/m6.asp Lancashire Historic Highways] - a page supplied by Lancashire County Council detailing the history of the M6 in North West England, and the construction of Preston Bypass, the UK's first motorway.
* [http://www.route6.co.uk/ Route 6]
*The Motorway Archive
** [http://www.iht.org/motorway/m5m6midlink.htm Junctions 1 to 13]
** [http://www.iht.org/motorway/m6birmpres.htm Junctions 13 to 16]
** [http://www.iht.org/motorway/m6ches.htm Junctions 16 to 20]
** [http://www.iht.org/motorway/m6prewar.htm Junctions 20 to 29]
** [http://www.iht.org/motorway/m6preston.htm Junctions 29 to 32]
** [http://www.iht.org/motorway/m6lancbp.htm Junctions 33 to 35]
** [http://www.iht.org/motorway/m6westm.htm Junctions 35 to 40]
** [http://www.iht.org/motorway/m6penrith.htm Junctions 40 to 41]
** [http://www.iht.org/motorway/m6carlisle.htm Junctions 41 to 44]

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