First anniversary for Queensferry Crossing
Fresh analysis released today by Transport Scotland shows the Queensferry Crossing is meeting its primary objective of delivering a more reliable crossing over the Firth of Forth.
August 30 marks one full year since the Queensferry Crossing opened to traffic. Having watched the UK’s tallest bridge slowly rise from the waters over the Forth, the new bridge opened amid much excitement and anticipation 12 months ago.
The main operational features of the new bridge include wind shields and hard shoulders, specifically designed and implemented to provide road users with a more reliable journey, in contrast to the long delays experienced in the past on the Forth Road Bridge as a result of the impact of high winds, accidents and breakdowns.
Since the new bridge opened, there have been 14 occasions when the FRB would have had to close to high sided vehicles. This improved reliability is delivering benefits for the economy, businesses and commuters which has been recognised by the Road Haulage Association and Freight Transport Association.
In addition to the benefits of wind shielding, hard shoulders on the new bridge have reduced delays resulting from accidents and breakdowns. Analysis of journeys over both bridges has shown that the ability to respond to accidents and breakdowns and restore normal journey times has significantly improved since the Queensferry Crossing opened:
- 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.
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.”