Calls for A1 improvements in East Midlands backed by drivers and businesses

A recent survey conducted by Transport for the East Midlands (TfEM) reveals that drivers are actively avoiding a major East Midlands road, resulting in businesses spending significant sums on vehicle maintenance due to its poor condition.

The A1, particularly around Newark, Retford, Worksop, Stamford, and Grantham, faces concerns related to congestion, poor road conditions, inadequate signage, junction safety, and accidents.

Out of the 1,100 individuals and businesses surveyed, over 60% of the 1,000 drivers expressed feeling unsafe on the A1. Almost half of the respondents reported either being personally involved in an accident on the road or knowing someone who had, leading to more than 70% avoiding travel on this route.

Parliament has been informed of 27 fatalities on the A1 in the East Midlands from 2015 to 2020, along with over 200 incidents requiring road closures, sometimes for extended periods.

Among the 100 businesses surveyed by TfEM, all have incurred expenses for maintenance or repairs due to the road’s condition, with over 60% indicating costs ranging from £300 to £1,000.

Nearly all businesses have adjusted their operations, planning alternative routes, hiring experienced A1 drivers, and conducting risk assessments to accommodate the road’s challenging conditions.

While segments of the A1 have undergone upgrades to A1M motorway standards in various regions, a 72-mile stretch between Stamford in Lincolnshire and Worksop/Retford in Nottinghamshire remains an unlit dual carriageway lacking CCTV monitoring.

This section serves 1.9m people, and unlike motorways, it features short entry and exit lanes, along with crossing points where vehicles can traverse carriageways.

Recent surveys echo research by Midlands Connect, revealing that delays on this part of the A1 impose an annual cost of approximately £1.75m on the regional economy.

This translates to daily losses of around £1,400 for commuters and nearly £514,000 per year for HGV drivers.

Sir Peter Soulsby, Chair of TfEM and Mayor of Leicester said: “This survey adds the voices of local people and businesses to the mounting evidence that the A1 is not fit for purpose in the East Midlands. In the past few years, there have been 27 fatal accidents on this stretch of the A1 – significantly higher than average for an A-road dual carriageway – and more than 200 road closures, some of which have lasted up to 10 hours. This is an appalling human cost and unacceptable.

“While the forthcoming National Highways safety work to improve the road’s lane markings and signage is very welcome, what we need is a more strategic approach to enhancing the route to improve reliability and resilience and bring the A1 in the East Midlands up to a standard that reflects its national and regional economic role.”

Cllr Ben Bradley MP, leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “The A1 is a hugely important artery for our whole region, and hasn’t been fit for purpose for a long time. Investment in bringing this road up to motorway levels of safety infrastructure would be most welcome, and the survey demonstrates the strength of local concerns.

“The quality and capacity limitations of the A1 could hold back our economy, too. Major investments such as the £20bn STEP Fusion project – developing a world-first fusion power plant near the A1 at Retford and bringing in a huge amount of inward investment to the region – will not be able to deliver the maximum benefit to local people without these infrastructure improvements. The Government’s commitment to investment here would be very beneficial.”