The Scottish Government opened The Queensferry Crossing a year ago on 30 August. They have issued some numbers showing why the bridge is a reliable alternative to the 1964 Forth Road Bridge.
There have been 14 instances when the bridge remained open in circumstances that would have closed the Forth Road Bridge. The government claims that the design features such as wind shields and hard shoulders allow for a more reliable journey. This passes on to the economy and businesses which all benefit from the bridge being in place. The Road Haulage Association and the Freight Transport Association are two organisations which have recognised that benefit.
- The typical duration of an incident on the Queensferry Crossing is around one hour from the start of an incident through to restoring normal traffic conditions
- On the FRB the typical duration of an incident ranges from one hour to up to five hours before normal traffic conditions have been restored. These significantly longer periods of time resulted in prolonged and severe delays
- Typically journey times over the FRB doubled during an incident, while the impact on journey times on the Queensferry Crossing has been significantly reduced
- For example during an incident with a broken down vehicle on the Queensferry Crossing the journey time increased from 11 minutes to 13 minutes. While during an incident with a broken down vehicle on the FRB the journey time increased from 15 minutes to 30 minutes
- While the time taken to return to normal traffic conditions was one hour for the Queensferry Crossing and two and a half hours for the FRB when comparing the two incidents
- During one incident there was no impact at all on journey times over the Queensferry Crossing.
The hard shoulders reduce any delays from accidents and breakdowns. The analysis shows that the time lost due to incidents like this has significantly reduced.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure & Connectivity, Michael Matheson said: “The recent Audit Scotland report recognised the Queensferry Crossing as having delivered its objective of providing a more reliable road link between the Lothians and Fife. One year on since opening the new bridge, we are today providing further evidence that shows how reliability of journeys over the Forth have improved in the last twelve months.
“This is in sharp contrast to the lengthy delays seen in the past on the Forth Road Bridge, where an accident or breakdown resulted in huge tailbacks and much longer journeys over the bridge and the surrounding road networks.
“The impacts of incidents on the Queensferry Crossing have been much reduced by making use of the hard shoulders to assist in quicker response times in the recovery of vehicles and allowing for the ability to maintain two lanes of traffic.
“There are clear and significant economic benefits from this reliable crossing for both industry and commuters alike, I am pleased to see this has been recognised by the road haulage industry today. With 14 occasions since the new bridge opened when the FRB would have had to close to high sided vehicles – this shows the real impact the Queensferry Crossing has had to the benefit of industry. This reliability is in sharp contrast to the chaos seen during the closure of the FRB in 2015 which brought into sharp focus the need for a new crossing over the Forth.
“However, I am aware that our contractor is still carrying out remedial and finishing work at night and this has an impact on those travelling outside of peak hours. I understand the frustration of road users in this regard and I have asked Transport Scotland officials to write to the REC Committee when Parliament returns to provide an update on this work.”
The road haulage industry has signalled its satisfaction with the new bridge, commenting on the Queensferry Crossing’s first anniversary Martin Reid of the Road Haulage Association said: “The importance of road transport to the Scottish economy and its supply chain cannot be overstated and so the Forth crossing is a vital route to cities and major conurbations along the East Coast.
“Any delays caused through using diversionary routes has a massive knock on effect in terms of service delivery and cost. In retail alone there are 11 Retail Distribution Centres in the area which use the Queensferry Crossing to service 132 outlets. Delays to journey times in this area alone would have a massive impact on margins and customer relations. That is before we even consider the impact of delays on the vast number of deliveries that go to and from the distilleries, ports and industrial estates along the route.
“Closures over the Forth also adversely affect Scotland’s imports and exports, as the routes across the forth are central to most of the east coast transit. There is little need to disguise the fact that the Queensferry Crossing remaining open during periods that would have closed the FRB has undoubtedly benefitted our industry and the Scottish economy in general.”
Seamus Leheny, Policy Manager of the Freight Transport Association said: “At a time when reliable trading links across the country, and with the rest of Europe, are more critical than ever before, the Queensferry Crossing has quickly established itself as a vital component in the UK’s supply chain. Its ability to remain open when other options are closed by the severe weather conditions frequently experienced in this part of the world are a godsend for businesses on both sides of the border. As consumers and businesses continue to press for time critical deliveries, it is vital that infrastructure investments of this type continue to be prioritized by local and central governments, so that the whole of the UK can continue to trade efficiently, and with minimal delays.”