Labour attacks Highways Agency over M4 closure

The Labour party has attacked the Highways Agency's (HA) handling of this weekend’s M4 closure, questioning if the UK’s transport network is up to the task of handling the Olympics.

The M4 was closed at the weekend between Junction 2 and 3, after a crack was found in the elevated section of the motorway, which is a major route linking Heathrow airport to central London.

Junctions 1 and 2 of the M4, around Boston Manor Viaduct, have since reopened. However the M4 westbound remains closed between junctions J2 and J3 and is not expected to reopen until 12 July.

John Woodcock MP, Labour’s shadow transport minister, says:  “It is astonishing that with less than twenty days to go before the Olympic Opening Ceremony, a key part of the M4 to Heathrow Airport will be shut for several days.

“The Highways Agency has known about issues with the viaduct for at least four months, so motorway users will be asking why there has been a panicked closure of the road weeks before the Games.

“Ministers need to confirm that there are contingency plans in place, so that another failure of the M4 would not jeopardise the Games. The Tory-led Government also needs to urgently review the impact of its £435m cuts to road maintenance budgets and whether they have contributed to this mess.”

Operators have been reminded that The Olympic Route Network (ORN) will start operating on 25 July two days ahead of the opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium.

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DHL driver wins Volvo Trucks Driver Challenge 2012

DHL driver Edward Fowell has beaten nine rivals to win the Volvo Trucks Driver Challenge 2012.

The fuel-economy challenge took place over a tough 132km route around the Irish Counties of Galway and Mayo. This included heavy traffic on the Galway dual-carriageway ring road, and a vicious 25% gradient uphill double hairpin between Cornamona and Clonbury.

Each of the 10 finalists drove identical Volvo FM11-450 6x2 tractor units coupled to a fleet of fully-freighted trailers on loan from Stobart Group, which were all loaded to within 0.05% of each other.

On being presented with the trophy, Fowell, who has been driving LGVs for nine years and currently drives a Volvo FH for DHL on its B&Q contract, said: “I couldn’t believe it. I knew I’d done good, but not that good!”

He added that the key to winning was forward planning, coasting and keeping the truck rolling. All of which were aided by the I-Shift gearbox which he described as “the best”.