M42 motorway

Route map:
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M42 shield
M42 A45 junction 10y07.JPG
The M42 from a bridge just east of the M42/A45, looking south towards junction 6
Route information
Part of E05
Maintained by National Highways
Length40.0 mi (64.4 km)
HistoryOpened: 1976
Completed: 1989
Major junctions
Southwest endCatshill
Major intersections
M5 motorway

J3a → M40 motorway

J7 → M6 motorway

M6 motorway

M6 motorway

M6 Toll
Northeast end A42 Appleby Magna
CountryUnited Kingdom
CountiesWorcestershire, Warwickshire, West Midlands, Leicestershire
Birmingham Airport
Road network
M40 M45

The M42 motorway runs north east from Bromsgrove in Worcestershire to just south west of Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire, passing Redditch, Solihull, the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) and Tamworth on the way, serving the east of the Birmingham metropolitan area. The section between the M40 and junction 4 of the M6 forms – though unsigned as such – a part of Euroroute E05. Northwards beyond junction 11, the route is continued as the A42; the junctions on this section, 12–14, are numbered like a continuation of the motorway, but the road has non-motorway status from here.


Planning and construction[edit]

Plans for a new motorway by-passing the south and east of Birmingham, reaching Tamworth and connecting the M5 and M6 motorways, were announced in 1972.

The first section opened in November 1976 linking Birmingham Airport with the M6 motorway.[1]

The curve around the south-eastern side of Solihull opened in September 1985 followed by the section from the M6 with the A5 at Tamworth in December 1985.[2] The southern section of the motorway to Alvechurch just north of Redditch to form a junction with the A441 and from A5 at Tamworth with the A444 at Measham opened in 1986.[3]

In 1987, the section to the A38 at Bromsgrove, 15 miles (24 km) south of Birmingham was completed.[4] and then in December 1989, the motorway was completed with the opening of the link from the M5.[5]

A planned section north of the M6 running to the M1 near Nottingham was never constructed as planned being replaced by the A42 link, a trunk road which was completed in August 1989 to link with the M1 motorway near Nottingham.[6]

When first built, there was no direct connection between the M5 South and M42. Westbound M42 traffic similarly had no direct connection to the M5 North. Instead traffic had to use the A38 between M5 junction 4 and M42 junction 1.

Operational history[edit]

Junction 3a was remodelled to give priority to traffic operating between the now westbound section of the M42 and the extended M40 motorway, which opened in stages between December 1989 and January 1991.

The section of the M42 between junctions 7A and 9 was re-built as part of the M6 Toll works and now forms the link between the M6 and the southern end of the toll road. The M6 Toll opened in 2003.

Active Traffic Management with hard shoulder running and variable speed limits were introduced in 2006.

Since the 1980s, there have been constant plans to build a new service station on the motorway south of Birmingham Airport and the NEC, but this has yet to be built.[7]


Birmingham Outer Ring Road[edit]

Along with sections of the M5 and M6, the southern sections of the M42 form the Birmingham Outer Ring Road motorway around Birmingham. Much like the M25 around London, and the M60 around Manchester, there are areas where this orbital system does not work well. One such point is junction 3A, the link between the M42 and the M40, where traffic is often heavy in the rush hour. The intersection between the M42 and M6 is often very busy too,[citation needed] especially when travelling along the M6.

Managed motorways and Active Traffic Management[edit]

Active Traffic Management (ATM) was launched as a pilot scheme on the M42 operating between junction 3a and 7 with mandatory variable speed limits, hard shoulder running, better driver information signs and a new incident management system. This system allows operators to open and close any lane to traffic in order to help manage congestion or an incident. Between 2006 and 2007, journey times have decreased by 26% northbound and 9% southbound and journey time variability has decreased by 27%.[8] Due to the success of the trial this system was later extended northbound to junction 9 of the M42 (and onto the adjacent M6 to junction 5) and southbound along the M40 to junction 15 as part of the first phase of a nationwide roll out of the rebranded 'Managed motorways; concept.

Incidents and accidents[edit]


Data from driver location signs are used to provide distance and carriageway identifier information.[10] If a junction extends over several hundred metres and both start and end points are known, both are shown.

M42 motorway junctions
mile km South-westbound exits (A carriageway) Junction North-eastbound exits (B carriageway) Coordinates
The North West, Birmingham (W, N & C), Stourbridge, (M6) M5(N)
The South West, Worcester M5(S)
M5 J4A Start of motorway 52°20′53″N 2°04′29″W / 52.3480°N 2.0746°W / 52.3480; -2.0746 (M42, Start of motorway)
Bromsgrove A38 J1 No access (on-slip only) 52°21′20″N 2°02′45″W / 52.3556°N 2.0458°W / 52.3556; -2.0458 (M42, J1)
Birmingham (S) A441
Hopwood Park services
Birmingham (S) A441
Hopwood Park services
52°21′42″N 1°56′56″W / 52.3618°N 1.9489°W / 52.3618; -1.9489 (M42, J2)
8.4 13.5 Entering Worcestershire J3 Birmingham (S), Redditch, Evesham A435 52°21′18″N 1°53′09″W / 52.3549°N 1.8859°W / 52.3549; -1.8859 (M42, J3)
8.8 14.1 Birmingham (S), Redditch, Evesham A435 Entering Warwickshire
End of variable speed limit J3A
[coord 1]
Start of variable speed limit 52°20′55″N 1°48′41″W / 52.3486°N 1.8114°W / 52.3486; -1.8114 (M42, J3A)
London, Warwick, Stratford M40 London, Warwick, Stratford M40
Entering Warwickshire Entering West Midlands 52°21′46″N 1°48′15″W / 52.3629°N 1.8043°W / 52.3629; -1.8043
Shirley A34 J4 Shirley A34 52°22′47″N 1°47′11″W / 52.3797°N 1.7865°W / 52.3797; -1.7865 (M42, J4)
Solihull A41 J5 Solihull A41 52°24′18″N 1°45′00″W / 52.4051°N 1.7500°W / 52.4051; -1.7500 (M42, J5)
Birmingham (E), Birmingham International , Birmingham Airport interchange, National Exhibition Centre, Coventry A45 J6 Birmingham (E), Birmingham International , Birmingham Airport interchange, National Exhibition Centre A45(W)

Coventry (S & W), N.E.C. A45(E)

52°26′42″N 1°42′36″W / 52.4451°N 1.7099°W / 52.4451; -1.7099 (M42, J6)
No access (on-slip only) J7
[coord 2]
The North West, Birmingham (C & N) M6(N) 52°28′26″N 1°42′41″W / 52.4738°N 1.7115°W / 52.4738; -1.7115 (M42, J7)
Entering West Midlands Entering Warwickshire 52°28′28″N 1°42′41″W / 52.4744°N 1.7114°W / 52.4744; -1.7114
No access J7A
[coord 3]
London (M1), Coventry M6 52°28′53″N 1°42′37″W / 52.4815°N 1.7103°W / 52.4815; -1.7103 (M42, J7A)
London (N & E) (M1), Coventry (N & E) M6 No access (on-slip only) 52°29′28″N 1°42′54″W / 52.4912°N 1.7151°W / 52.4912; -1.7151 (M42, J7B)
24.5 39.4 Birmingham (Central, E, N & W) M6(N) J8 No access (on-slip only) 52°30′33″N 1°43′32″W / 52.5091°N 1.7255°W / 52.5091; -1.7255 (M42, J8)
No access (on slip only) J9 The North West, Cannock, Lichfield M6 Toll 52°31′45″N 1°43′47″W / 52.5293°N 1.7296°W / 52.5293; -1.7296 (M42, J8A)
26.7 42.9 Start of variable speed limit Kingsbury A4097, Lichfield A446 52°32′20″N 1°43′35″W / 52.5388°N 1.7263°W / 52.5388; -1.7263 (M42, J9)
The North West M6 Toll, Coleshill A446, A4097 End of variable speed limit
32.4 52.2 Nuneaton, Tamworth A5, Lichfield (A38)
Tamworth services
Nuneaton, Tamworth A5
Tamworth services
52°36′12″N 1°38′30″W / 52.6033°N 1.6416°W / 52.6033; -1.6416 (M42, J10)
Entering Warwickshire Entering Leicestershire 52°40′19″N 1°33′40″W / 52.6720°N 1.5612°W / 52.6720; -1.5612
39.7 63.9 Start of motorway J11
[coord 4]
Burton upon Trent, Measham A444 52°41′20″N 1°32′55″W / 52.6890°N 1.5485°W / 52.6890; -1.5485 (M42, J11)
40.0 64.4 Nuneaton A444
Non-motorway traffic
End of motorway
Road continues as
A42 towards East Midlands Airport
52°41′34″N 1°32′50″W / 52.6929°N 1.5471°W / 52.6929; -1.5471 (M42, J11)
  • Distances in kilometres and carriageway identifiers are obtained from driver location signs/location marker posts. Where a junction spans several hundred metres and the data is available, both the start and finish values for the junction are shown.
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

Coordinate list[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Chronology Map 1976". CRBD. Archived from the original on 20 September 2010. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
  2. ^ "Chronology Map 1985". CRBD. Archived from the original on 20 September 2010. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
  3. ^ "Chronology Map 1986". CRBD. Archived from the original on 25 November 2009. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
  4. ^ "Chronology Map 1987". CRBD. Archived from the original on 20 September 2010. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
  5. ^ "Chronology Map 1989". CRBD. Archived from the original on 20 September 2010. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
  6. ^ CBRD – M42 – Accessed 7 February 2009
  7. ^ "Unbuilt Services". Motorway Services Online. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
  8. ^ "'Extra lane' plan to be extended". BBC News. 25 October 2007. Retrieved 31 December 2007.
  9. ^ "M42 death crash driver wins back his licence". Archive.worcesternews.co.uk. 10 November 2001. Archived from the original on 1 July 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2010.
  10. ^ Driver Location Signs, M42 J1-7 (map) – Highway Authority, 2009

External links[edit]

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