Highways England plans to step up its “smart” motorway programme, the agency's strategy and planning director Elliott Shaw told delegates at a strategy day this week.

There will be a "modularised" approach so that they can be rolled out “mile after mile” across the network. This will be more cost-effective and consistent than approach hitherto, where each scheme has been specifically designed, he said.

Shaw was speaking at a conference in London on the DfT’s evolving road investment strategy (RIS2), held by the Westminster Energy Environment and Transport Forum.

Earlier Pam Turton, assistant director, transport environment and business support at Portsmouth City Council, welcomed the plan to turn the M27 junctions 4-11 into smart motorways: “It’s fantastic to see this investment,” she said.

Institute of Highway Engineers chief executive Richard Hayes noted that there has been a 50% reduction in accidents on the smart motorway section of the M1 in Derbyshire.

However, Hayes told MT after the conference that he has been cautious about safety aspects of all-lane running and will continue to asses the evidence as more becmoes available

Smart motorways are a technology-driven approach to increasing capacity and relieving congestion while maintaining safety, Highways England has claimed.

The system is not without its critics, with the Transport Committee having questioned the safety of the schemes, most recently after an AA survey of the public last month found revealed many people are still uncertain about all-lane running.

By Jack Semple