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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 December, 2004, 15:55 GMT
Car-share lane will debut on M1
Traffic congestion (pic courtesy of Freefoto.com)
The initiative aims to cut down on the number of cars on the road
The UK's first motorway lane dedicated to drivers carrying passengers is to open on the M1 between St Albans in Herts and Luton in Bedfordshire.

The trial scheme was announced by the government to promote car sharing.

Solo drivers will be banned from the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane - during rush hour.

The lane will stretch between junctions 7 and 10 of the M1 with a view towards extending the scheme to junction 13, which is Milton Keynes South.

Transport Secretary, Alistair Darling said: "The government is determined to tackle congestion - adding capacity where necessary and making better use of existing road space.

"Carpool lanes encourage drivers to share their vehicle by providing dedicated lanes for vehicles with passengers.

International precedent

"Making better use of our road network, these lanes have been used to great effect both in America and Australia and could play a key role in reducing congestion on Britain's motorways.

"I hope motorists will be encouraged to consider carpooling and take advantage of the new lanes. It works elsewhere and there is no reason why it can't work here as well."

Work is already planned to widen the motorway from dual three lanes to dual four lanes.

The government estimates that there would be 5% fewer cars on the road if car sharing was adopted. Work is due to start in Autumn 2005.

The Highways Agency was recently criticised by the public spending watchdog for not pursuing more radical solutions to road congestion.

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