With regard to the Government’s proposal to reduce the speed limit from 70mph to 60mph between junctions 28 and 35a from the hours of 7am to 7pm seven days a week is, I think, totally misguided and merely pandering to the ‘Green’ lobby.
In realistic terms I would suggest that, on that stretch of the M1 between 5am and 8pm, you could not set a cruise control on any vehicle, be it either car, coach or truck at 50mph from Monday to Friday and keep that steady speed in either direction because of traffic volume and obstacles on various stretches of the motorway. Going south you have vehicles entering the motorway from the Woodhead road, then everyone trying to get in position for the Tinsley viaduct exit, after which the motorway is reduced to two lanes over the viaduct, when that opens up into three lanes again you have traffic entering from Meadowhall (junction 34), after a short stretch you then have traffic changing lanes to exit at junction 33 (The Parkway) and also joining the motorway for the long climb up to the M18 turnoff.
We then have heavy traffic joining from the M18 and although it is four lanes wide down to junction 31 there is also a large volume of traffic, coming south on the M1 with many people wanting to exit at 31 and have therefore got to get over into the left lane to do so. Junction 31 is a bit chaotic at present due to the major road works on the A57 towards Todwick but I think this should be finished in a couple of months and will be a vast improvement for vehicle access to the industrial estates in Dinnington.
From junctions 31 to 30 there aren’t any real problems with only people exiting or joining the motorway from Woodall services. There always seems to be slow traffic and a fair number of accidents between junctions 30 and 29a/29 and I can’t understand why, except that is very open down the hill from junction 30 and can make driving a bit difficult if there are strong cross winds. From 29 down to 28 we have the long gradient past Tibshelf services and again people are entering and exiting the services and then there is a fair volume of traffic exiting at junction 28, the same problems apply to travelling north.
The idea of a motorway is to move large volumes of traffic cruising at their legal speed limits, which manufacturers, particularly of trucks (56mph) and coaches (62mph) design them with regard to power outputs and overall gearing to operate at their most fuel efficient and running in top gear with emissions on those vehicles being extremely tightly controlled with Euro 4, 5 and now 6 exhaust emission rules.
The real problem with air pollution, on this stretch of motorway, is that, because of traffic volume and busy junctions, it is not possible to do this and it is stop start motoring so drivers are having to go up and down the gearbox, creating more pollution, instead of being able to cruise at a constant speed and so dropping the speed limit from 70mph to 60mph will make no difference whatsoever, a typical knee jerk reaction by someone who has not studied the situation properly.
If anyone doubts what I am saying just try driving on this section of the M1, both ways, yourself and see what you think.