New motorway

Britain’s newest motorway has opened in Leicestershire.  But the mile-long road goes nowhere and the first users were all traffic officers from the Highways Agency.  The M-way has been specially created by Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground and airfield on part of its main, 1.9-mile-long, runway – one of the longest in the UK.

 Initially it was created for the training of the majority of England’s traffic officers, who are trained to very high standards for their role, which includes helping motorists, managing traffic, supporting traffic police and other emergency services and removing broken-down or damaged vehicles from roads in England.  Their Emergency Carriageway Clearance training at Bruntingthorpe focused on the efficient towing to safety of stranded vehicles while safeguarding personnel and equipment.

 Paul Atkin, general manager of business development at Bruntingthorpe, said the three-lane motorway, complete with hard shoulder and central reservation, had been created by careful white-lining of the first 1,500 metres of the site’s main runway.  “It’s as realistic as it can possibly be without actually being a motorway.  It has the added advantage of an adjacent fully-equipped classroom with all the usual facilities.  So there’s no travelling or delay for the officers as they leave the classroom theory lessons to undertake practical towing exercises on the motorway.

 “While the final sign-off for traffic officer training is always undertaken on a ‘live’ motorway, our facility provides exactly the right controlled environment for more than 90% of the training with none of the very real hazards and dangers posed by an uncontrolled, live environment.  To help the Highways Agency we provided a selection of vehicles to act as the stranded victims of M-way breakdowns and collisions.  The Highways Agency stationed six of its familiar 4x4s here at Bruntingthorpe proving ground for the duration of the training.”

 Not long after the towing training programme finished, the Highways Agency again used Bruntingthorpe’s M-way for the training of traffic officers.  This time it was for the safe deployment of emergency protection screens.  These are trailer-mounted screens that are towed to incident scenes where they are quickly erected to screen-off the site from passing motorists.  It is not uncommon for drivers passing crash scenes to cause more crashes as a result of what’s known as ‘rubber-necking’.

 “We’re not surprised our new M-way was again used by the Highways Agency,” said Mr Atkin.  “We believe this new facility will be highly sought-after as it provides a safe and perfect location for a wide range of clients.  We envisage TV companies, film-makers, driver-training organisations, traffic-management crews and the emergency services will all consider its potential and we’ve already had numerous enquiries.  We fully expect Bruntingthorpe’s M-way to be extremely busy.”