M42 motorway

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The M42 from a bridge just east of the M42/A45 junction (J6)

The M42 motorway runs north-east from Bromsgrove in Worcestershire to just south-west of Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire. It passes Redditch, Solihull, the National Exhibition Centre and Tamworth on the way. Beyond junction 11 the route is continued as the A42, with the junctions on this section, 12–14, numbered as a continuation of the motorway, but the road has non-motorway status from here.


Planning and construction

The M42 was first announced in 1972.

The first section opened in November 1976 linking Birmingham International 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 motorway 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, some 15 miles 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.[6]

Operational history

Junction 3a was remodelled to give priority to traffic operating between the now westbound section of the M42 and the new M40 motorway towards London in January 1991. The section of M42 between the M40 (J3A) and the M5 (J4A) was scheduled to be re-designated as an extension of the M40 at the same time, but this re-designation never took place.

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

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, especially when travelling along the M6.

Managed motorways and Active Traffic Management

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. Since it started in 2006 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.


M42 motorway junctions
miles Northbound exits (B carriageway) Junction Southbound exits (A carriageway) Coordinates
Start of motorway Terminus
M5 J4A
The south west, Worcester M5(S)
The north west, Birmingham (W, N & C), Stourbridge, M5(N)
52°20’53"N, 2°4’28"W
No access J1 Bromsgrove A38 52°21’20"N, 2°2’45"W
Birmingham (South) A441
Hopwood Park services
Birmingham (South), A441
Hopwood Park services
52°21’43"N, 1°56’56"W
Birmingham (South), Redditch, Evesham A435 J3 Birmingham (South), Redditch, Evesham A435 52°21’18"N, 1°53’9"W
London, Warwick, Stratford M40 J3A London, Warwick, Stratford M40 52°20’55"N, 1°48’41"W
Shirley A34 J4 Shirley A34 52°22’47"N, 1°47’11"W
Solihull A41 J5 Solihull A41 52°24’19"N, 1°45’0"W
Birmingham (East), NEC, Airport, Coventry (South & West) A45 J6 Birmingham (East), NEC, Airport, (Coventry) A45 52°26’42"N, 1°42’36"W
The north west, Birmingham (North & Central) M6(N) J7 No access 52°28’26"N, 1°42’41"W
London (M1), Coventry M6(S) J7A No access 52°28’53"N, 1°42’37"W
No access J7A London, Coventry, (M6) M6 Toll 52°29’28"N, 1°42’54"W
24.5 No access J8 Birmingham (East, North, West & Central) M6 52°30’33"N, 1°43’32"W
Lichfield, The north west M6 Toll J9 No access 52°31’45"N, 1°43’47"W
26.7 Lichfield, Coleshill A446
Sutton Coldfield, Kingsbury A4097
J9 Lichfield, Coleshill, A446
Sutton Coldfield, Kingsbury, A4097
52°32’20"N, 1°43’35"W
32.4 Tamworth, Nuneaton A5
Tamworth services
Tamworth A5, Lichfield (A38) (M6 Toll)
Tamworth services
52°36’12"N, 1°38’30"W
Burton upon Trent A444 J11 Start of motorway 52°41’20"N, 1°32’54"W
Road continues as A42 to East Midlands Airport & M1 Nuneaton A444
Non motorway traffic
52°41’35"N, 1°32’50"W


Outside links

Motorways in the United Kingdom

Great Britain: M1  • M2  • M3  • M4  • M5  • M6  • M6 Toll  • M8  • M9  • M10  • M11  • M18  • M20  • M23  • M25  • M26  • M27  • M32  • M40  • M42  • M45  • M48  • M49  • M50  • M53  • M54  • M55  • M56  • M57  • M58  • M60  • M61  • M62  • M63  • M65  • M66  • M67  • M69  • M73  • M74  • M77  • M80  • M85  • M90  • M180  • M181  • M271  • M275  • M602  • M606  • M621  • M876  • M898  • Sections of A road: A1(M)

Former motorways marked in italics

Northern Ireland: M1  • M2  • M3  • M5  • M12  • M22