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definition - M40_motorway

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M40 motorway


M40 motorway shield

M40 motorway
Route information
Part of Tabliczka E05.svg E05
Length: 89.0 mi (143.2 km)
Existed: 1967 – present
History: Constructed 1967–1990
Major junctions
From: Denham, Buckinghamshire
(J1, A40 Western Avenue)
  UK-Motorway-M25.svgJunction 1a.svg
M25 Junction 16
UK-Motorway-M42.svgJunction 17.svg
M42 Junction 3A
To: Earlswood, Warwickshire
(J3A, M42 Birmingham Box)
Uxbridge, Beaconsfield, High Wycombe, Oxford, Banbury, Warwick, Royal Leamington Spa, Stratford-upon-Avon, Birmingham
Road network

Roads in the United Kingdom
Motorways • A and B road zones

The M40 motorway is a motorway in the British transport network that forms a major part of the connection between London and Birmingham. Part of this road forms a section of the unsigned European route E05. It provides an alternative route from Southern England to the West Midlands, besides the M1 and A34.



The motorway is dual 3 lanes except for the section from Junction 1A to Junction 3 which is dual 4 lane, a short section past Junction 4, where is it reduced to 2 lanes in both directions, and a short section past Junction 9, where it is reduced to 2 lanes southbound.

The M40 has four service areas. The Beaconsfield services (off junction 2) operated by Extra MSA are also accessible to traffic on the A355. Oxford services (off Junction 8A and accessible from Junction 8 and the A418) are operated by Welcome Break. Cherwell Valley services (off Junction 10, A43) are operated by Moto. Warwick services (between Junctions 12 and 13) are made up of two sites mirroring each other without a connection and are operated by Welcome Break. As of 2011 several of the company logos on the signs for these services are incorrect.

An Active Traffic Management system operates on the short section of motorway northbound from Junction 16 (A3440) to where it merges into the M42.


  M40 at Burtley Wood, Buckinghamshire
  M40 at Warmington, Warwickshire
  The M40 heading westbound towards Junction 3 (High Wycombe)

The motorway between London and Oxford was constructed in stages between 1967 and 1974. The first section from the High Wycombe Bypass from Handycross to Stokenchurch (junctions 4–5) opened in June 1967[1] with a temporary junction (Junction 2*) opening in 1969 extending the route in a southerly direction to Holtspur just outside of Beaconsfield. The 'Beaconsfield bypass' to junction 2 was built in 1971 and then the 'Gerrards Cross Bypass' to junction 1 was completed in 1973. The section northbound from junction 5 to junction 8 (Pitmore to Chilworth Farm at Great Milton just outside Oxford) was completed in 1974.

Shortly after this, plans were unveiled for a service station at Abbey Barns near Beaconsfield, but this was never built.[2]

At the design stage, a service area was originally planned for High Wycombe, between junctions 3 and 4, and the road has the beginnings of slip roads on both carriageways at this point.[3] The plans never reached fruition.

In late the 1960s, not long after the first stretch of the M40 opened, the Ministry of Transport announced the possibility of building a motorway to link London with Birmingham as an alternative to the M1-M6 route, as well as improving road links to the South Coast ports for the midlands. However, it was not until 1983 that the decision to extend the M40 from Oxford to the south of Birmingham was made.

The planned route from Oxford to Birmingham was changed to avoid Otmoor after a vigorous road protests which included selling over 3,000 small squares of a field to people all over the world. The field had been renamed 'Alice's field' as a reference to Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll who lived in the area at the time he wrote the book.[4]

Construction of the dual three-lane motorway began at Warwick in October 1987, with work on the section around Banbury starting in February 1988, and finally the section north of Oxford in July 1989. The section between the M42 and Warwick opened in December 1989, and the remainder of the motorway in January 1991.[5]

It was also planned that the M42 between junctions 3A to the M5 would be renumbered as part of the M40 but this change did not take place.

By the time of the motorway's full opening, the remaining parts of the original M40 had been widened to dual three motorway creating a dual three lane motorway from start to finish.

M40's first service station opened as Cherwell Valley services in 1994 on the site of temporary toilet areas which had been created when the motorway was constructed.[6]

The M40 had been expected to be the last major motorway constructed in the UK, but during the final stages of construction the Conservative government announced a major new road building scheme (Roads for Prosperity); much of which was later cancelled after major road protests.

Beginning in 1997, the motorway was widened to dual four lane between junctions 1A and 3 (High Wycombe East) under a Private Finance Initiative. It was completed by a Carillion-John Laing joint venture in October 1998, less than the original plan which would have included widening the section between Junctions 3 and 4. Oxford services and Warwick Services opened in 1998.

Work to separate local and long distance traffic at junction 4 was completed in 2007. The work included a new dedicated left turn slip lane between the A404 Marlow Bypass and the Oxford-bound M40; additional lanes to the M40 slip roads entering the roundabout; an additional lane between the A404 Marlow Hill and the London-bound M40; and a five lane cross link to assist traffic movements between the M40 and the A404(S).[7]

In 2009 the Highways Agency extended the Active Traffic Management (ATM) system that was previously introduced on the M42 motorway onto the northbound carriageway of the M40 from junction 16 through to the junction with the M42. Beaconsfield services (near the site of the original proposed service station almost 40 years earlier) opened in 2009.

In August 2010, work started on junction 9, upgrading the M40 southbound exit sliproad to three lanes, as well as similar widening on the connecting A34 and A41 junctions. This was the first part of the work at this busy junction. If there is funding, a second part will commence, upgrading the M40 northbound entrance as well as the A41 southbound entrance.[8]

  Notable events

  • Twelve school children and a teacher died when their minibus crashed into a parked motorway maintenance vehicle just after midnight on 18 November 1993. The inquest recorded a verdict of accidental death for all of the victims but noted that none of the children were wearing seatbelts and that the side-facing bench seating was dangerous.[citation needed] Seatbelts were subsequently made compulsory equipment on all coaches and minibuses (more than 20 years after they had been compulsory on cars).[citation needed] It has been compulsory for passengers to wear seatbelts on coaches and minibuses since 2006.[9]
  • A motor cycle rider was shot dead between junctions 13 and 12 on 12 August 2007.[10][11] The victim was a member of the Hells Angels on his way home from the Bulldog Bash.[12] In October 2008, a man pleaded guilty to murder ahead of the trial of six other men on charges of murder and firearms offences.
  • Jimmy Davis, a 21-year-old Watford footballer on loan from Manchester United, died on a stretch of the M40 in Oxfordshire in the early hours of 9 August 2003 after his BMW collided with a lorry. The footballer was over the drink-drive limit and had been driving at speeds of up to 120 miles per hour (190 km/h).[13]
  • In 2002 more than 100 vehicles were involved in a pile-up near High Wycombe that resulted in two deaths.[14][15]


Data[16] from driver location signs are used to provide distance and carriageway identifier information. Where a junction spans several hundred metres, both start and end locations are given.

M40 motorway
km Southbound exits (B Carriageway) Junction Northbound exits (A Carriageway)
29.2 End of motorway
Road continues as A40 to London
[coord 1]
Start of motorway
Road formed from main carriageways of A40 from London
Slough A412
Uxbridge A4020
Non motorway traffic
Watford (M1) Heathrow Airport (M4) (M3, M23, M11) M25 J1a Watford &(M1) Stansted Airport (M11) Heathrow Airport (M4) Gatwick Airport (M23) M25
Beaconsfield, Amersham, Slough A355, Beaconsfield services J2
Beaconsfield, Amersham, Slough A355, Beaconsfield services
No access J3 Loudwater and High Wycombe (East) A40
High Wycombe, Marlow, Maidenhead A404 (M4)+ J4 High Wycombe, Marlow A404 (M4)
High Wycombe (West), Stokenchurch A40 J5 Stokenchurch A40
Watlington, Princes Risborough B4009 J6 Thame, Watlington, Princes Risborough B4009
No access J7 Thame, Wallingford, A329
No access J8 Oxford, Cheltenham A40
Thame, Aylesbury A418
Oxford (A40), Oxford services
Thame, Aylesbury A418
Oxford (A40), Oxford services
Bicester, Aylesbury A41
Oxford, Newbury A34
J9 Bicester A41
Oxford, Newbury A34
Northampton A43 (M1)
B430, Cherwell Valley services
Northampton A43 (M1)
B430, Cherwell Valley services
Banbury A422
Daventry A361
J11 Banbury A422
Chipping Norton A361
Gaydon B4451 J12 Gaydon B4451
144.5 Warwick Services Services Warwick Services
No access J13 Leamington, Warwick A452
Leamington A452 J14 No access
Warwick A429
Stratford, Coventry A46 Leicester (M69)
J15 Warwick A429
Stratford, Coventry A46 Leicester (M69)
Henley A3400 J16 No access
Start of motorway
Motorway is formed by two sliproads from the M42
J17 (M42, J3a)
[coord 2]
End of motorway
Road continues as M42
The SOUTH WEST, Birmingham (South & West), Redditch & M5
The North, Birmingham (North, East) M1, M6
Birmingham J18 No access

  Detailed routing

  Original M40

The M40 begins at the Denham Roundabout near Uxbridge just east of the M25 and finishes at the M42 near Birmingham. The A40 is a dual carriageway from the Inner Ring Road in Central London, and is one of the two busiest western radials. Much of the traffic using the A40 joins the M40 to travel out of London. At junction 1 (the Denham Roundabout) on the outbound carriageway there is a lane drop to accommodate the non-motorway traffic. The mainline of the A40 carries on to become the M40 and it has 2 lanes and a hard shoulder on the outbound carriageway and 3 lanes and a hard shoulder on the London-bound carriageway. The motorway is carried over the top of the roundabout, which interchanges with the A40 (A413, A412)(outbound), the A4020 (original route of the A40) and the A412 southbound. The original line of the A40 can be seen going straight through the roundabout.

The motorway then carries on for another 12 miles (0.80 km) before it reaches junction 1A, the free-flow interchange with the M25 London Orbital. It is a partially unrolled cloverleaf, with the smoothest turns allocated to the flow of traffic from the London-bound M40, (traffic from Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and the wider West Midlands), to the anti-clockwise M25 (London Heathrow, Gatwick, The Channel Ports), and vice versa, since this is the largest exchange of traffic between the two motorways. The M40 passes over the interchange, with the M25 on the bottom. The clockwise M25 enters the junction with 4 lanes and there is a lane drop to accommodate the traffic heading for the M40 westbound, and leaves the junction with 3 lanes. In contrast, the anti-clockwise M25 enters the junction with 3 lanes, and gains a lane from the London-bound M40 to accommodate the extra traffic. The London-bound M40 enters with 4 lanes, with a lane drop for the M25 exit, and leaves with 3 lanes, and the westbound M40 enters with lanes and gains a lane from the anti-clockwise M25.

After junction 1A, the motorway is 4 lane, and carries on for another 3 miles (4.8 km) until it reaches junction 2 for the A355 to Slough, and the A40 to Beaconsfield and Gerrards Cross. Junction 2 is the standard roundabout interchange, with the mainline of the M40 running underneath. Beaconsfield motorway services are just off the junction.

Junction 3 is another 3 miles (4.8 km) further on, and serves the A40 for High Wycombe East and Loudwater. This is a restricted junction; the only flow of traffic at this junction is from the westbound M40 to the A40, and from the A40 to the London-bound M40. The westbound carriageway loses a lane here, remaining 3 lane for the rest of the route, and the London-bound carriageway gains a lane. The now 3 lane motorway then immediately crosses the valley (and Loudwater) over a large ramp-like bridge.

Junction 4 is the interchange with the A404 - A404 north for High Wycombe and A404 south for Marlow, Maidenhead, Reading, Windsor and the M4. The motorway through the junction was never widened from the original two lane when the rest of the motorway from junction 8 to London was, and so both carriageways experience a temporary lane drop. The junction used to be a straightforward roundabout interchange with exits for the M40 (west and east), High Wycombe (A404), the A4010, two local roads and the A404 dual carriageway to the south. During 2007, work was completed to improve the junction which included extra stacking space on the sliproads from the M40, provision for traffic from the A404 northbound to join the M40 westbound slip road without joining the roundabout and provision for the London-bound M40 to skip the section of the roundabout which serves the A4010, High Wycombe, and the A404 north.

  The Stokenchurch Gap,"The Canyon" cutting in the Chiltern Hills.

Junction 5 is for the A40 and Stokenchurch. Junction 5 is the basic diamond interchange, and is also the fourth junction the M40 has had with the A40. 1 mile (1.6 km) farther on, the motorway passes through a large cutting (Stokenchurch Gap), known locally as "The Canyon" enters Oxfordshire and reaches junction 6 with the B4009 for Lewknor, Watlington, and Chinnor. The junction is a variant on the diamond interchange, with the slip roads from the M40 south having sharp bends — upon leaving the M40 from the westbound carriageway there is an immediate turn of almost 90° to the left and shortly after a sharp 90° turn to the right before a junction with the B4009, and similarly when entering the London-bound M40.

On its completion in 1967, the M40 finished at junction 5. The route was expanded a few years later to reach junction 7 and come within a few miles of Oxford. It was designated as a motorway to link London with one of the country's leading university cities. A similar scenario explained the construction of the M11 motorway linking London with Cambridge a few years later.[17]

Just over 1 mile (1.6 km) after junction 6 the motorway passes to within 100 metres of St Giles Church, Tetsworth and 2 miles (3.2 km) farther on meets the first of three junctions in close succession. Junction 7 is a restricted junction with the A329 serving Thame and the A40. Access is limited allowing exit for only northbound traffic and entry only for southbound traffic. The exiting slip road on the southbound M40 at J7 is for "Works Traffic Only" to a depot. A slip road exists to allow traffic from the A329 to join the M40 north but is closed to traffic by a gate: this traffic must therefore follow the A40 to Junction 8, 2 miles (3.2 km) to the north.

  Connection between old and new mainline of M40

At Junction 8 a spur off the M40 with two-lane carriageways leaves the mainline of the motorway and continues for a few miles before ending (motorway restrictions ending) at a trumpet junction for Wheatley and the A418(A40) (the old junction 8), with the road continuing as a two lane dual carriageway as the A40 towards Oxford and farther on to Cheltenham and Wales. The spur can be accessed only via the M40 northbound, and traffic heading towards the M40 can join only the southbound carriageway. This short spur is the end of the original M40, prior to the building of the current Junction 8 and extension to Birmingham.

After Junction 8, the M40 – the mainline – begin to head north and in less than 1 mile (1.6 km), reaches Junction 8A, for the A418, east to Thame and Aylesbury, as well as the single carriageway A40, south to London. It also serves Wheatley, via the A418(A40) via the dumbbell junction with the M40 spur. The junction allows traffic from the southbound M40 to enter Oxford, via the A40 dual-carriageway, and traffic from the A40 from Oxford to enter the northbound M40, via the linking road. The Oxford Services are also located on J8A, making the motorway accessible from the M40, A40 (Oxford), A418, A40 (London) and the A329. Leaving J8A, the M40 north has a sharp northerly turn, and prior to the extension of the motorway opening, local police patrol cars were used to check the turn could be safely navigated at and above the national speed limit, such was the abrupt change of direction.

  "The Missing Link"

The road travels for 12 miles (19 km) before reaching junction 9 for the A34 (E05) and the A41. The A34 dual carriageway serves Oxford and is a trunk route for Newbury, Winchester and Southampton (via the M3) as well as the rest of the South Coast — for this the reason it is part of the unsigned European route E05. The A41 dual carriageway serves Bicester and Aylesbury, and both roads meet the motorway at Wendelbury roundabout junction. This junction design is very inefficient and cannot cope with a very large volume of traffic using the junction. To try to alleviate this problem, there is a temporary lane drop for the London-bound carriageway. The largest exchange of traffic is between the A34 and the M40 north, and traffic on those roads backs up and causes congestion on both roads (going north and south), as well as on the interchange itself. North of the junction, the existing A34 becomes the A3400. This means the A34 is now technically in two halves (it regains status farther up the road at J16, although signs on the motorway do not mention this). Instead, the first signs for the A34 from a motorway are on the M42 at J4, as with the A41. The road also becomes part of the E5 north of J9.

The M40 follows a course of almost due north for 5 miles (8.0 km) before reaching Junction 10, which serves the village of Ardley, the A43 and the Cherwell Valley services. The A43 terminates at J10, although originally it carried on to Kidlington, the southern part of the old route now used by the re-routed A34. The A43 serves Brackley, Silverstone and its racing circuit, home to the British Grand Prix. Farther on, the A43 leads to Northampton and the M1. Junction 10 was originally a dumbbell junction. The capacity of both the junction and the single carriageway A43 proved too small when the road was used as a freight thoroughfare from the congested M1 to the M40 to London, and the A34 at J9 to the south coast — in fact the 5 miles (8.0 km) stretch between these junctions is the busiest on the motorway in both directions. When the A43 (between the M1 and M40) was upgraded to dual carriageway, the junction was redesigned and rebuilt by the Highways Agency to cope with the extra traffic. A third roundabout was added to the junction, to the north, with the slips for the Londonbound M40 and the A43, with the slip roads for the northbound M40 remodelled as well, and the roundabout in the middle now serving the services.

The slip road for the London-bound carriageway which used to be accessed from the roundabout is now reached only via the services. The design and execution of the revised design of new junction is greatly derided, mostly because of the three roundabouts giving no priority to the main flow of traffic, (A43-M40 London), and the slip roads off and onto the motorway (except the one accessed via the services) have sharp turns and adverse cambers, which results lorries frequently tipping over and spilling their loads especially on the roundabout at the end of the northern carriageway. The junction fails to perform its function as an effective traffic junction. As well, the slip roads onto the motorway give little manoeuvring space as both join the motorway under (the same) bridge built for the old junction.[18]

The motorway then follows a winding route north for 10 miles (16 km) until Junction 11, the A422 and A361, serving Banbury. The motorway does not follow the straight route to the east of Middleton Cheney, meeting with the A422, as it had once been planned, due to a major landowner refusing his land to be cut in two. If built as planned, J11 would be east of Middleton Cheney, meeting with the A422, and probably would have fuelled major growth in the village as well as Banbury, the primary destination of the junction. As it is, the junction was built 1.5 miles (2.4 km) west along the A422, with the motorway skirting Banbury. The junction itself is a regular roundabout interchange, and has the single carriageway A361 from Daventry the dual-carriageway A422 from Brackley and the A43 from the west, and the dual-carriageway A422 (A361) toward Banbury feeding to/from it.

Another 12 miles (19 km) north-west along the motorway is Junction 12, serving Gaydon and the Heritage Motor Centre via the B4451. The junction is a box-standard diamond interchange. Farther along the motorway is Warwick Services, the last on the motorway, before it reaches the restricted access Junction 13. This serves Leamington Spa and Warwick via the A452, and Gaydon via the B4100. The junction is incomplete as a half-diamond interchange, with access only from the northbound carriageway and access to the southbound M40.

The junction is completed 2 miles (3.2 km) farther on at Junction 14, another restricted access junction, with access to the A452 from the southbound M40, and the access on to the motorway is in a northbound direction. The slip roads join at a roundabout and carry on as the single carriageway A452 to meet with the A452 to Leamington Spa, A425 to Warwick, and the A452 to J13. Farther north, Henley-in-Arden (J16) is again 'incomplete' to discourage local traffic.

The motorway joins the M42 in both directions, with northbound traffic taking the left lane to exit eastbound, eventually forming the outer lanes of the M42 via a tight-bending two lane connecting road, and the right lanes being taken eastbound. Similarly, southbound, eastbound traffic from the M42 splits off from the outer two lanes, whereas westbound traffic of the M42 has a single lane, widening to a two lane slip road, which merges with the middle lane and forms the outer lane of the southbound M40.

  Coordinate list

  1. ^ 51°33′41″N 0°29′35″W / 51.5615°N 0.4930°W / 51.5615; -0.4930 (Junction 1) South Eastern end of M40
  2. ^ 52°20′56″N 1°48′35″W / 52.3488°N 1.8097°W / 52.3488; -1.8097 (M42 J3a) North Western end of M40
Note: the M40 runs south-east/north-west between Junctions 16 and 8

  See also


  1. ^ "News and Views: High Wycombe bypass". Autocar: page 360 date = 29 June 1967. 
  2. ^ "Abbey Barns". Motorway Services Online. 24 December 2011. http://motorwayservicesonline.co.uk/Abbey_Barns. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  3. ^ "Google map is location". http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=high+wycombe&ie=UTF8&ll=51.609955,-0.729775&spn=0.004611,0.013551&t=h&z=17. 
  4. ^ Evans, Paul (1 April 2009). "Diversionary tactics - the imaginative campaigns protecting the countryside from developers". The Guardian (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/apr/01/conservation-developers-countryside-uk. Retrieved 26 March 2010. 
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ "M40 Motorway". CBRD. http://www.cbrd.co.uk/motorway/m40/. 
  7. ^ "Highways Agency". http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/projects/3772.aspx. Retrieved 21 January 2010. 
  8. ^ "M40 Junction 9 Improvement". Highways Agency. http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/projects/3735.aspx. Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  9. ^ "Department for Transport Advisory Letter on Seatbelt Wearing". Department for Transport. http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/archive/2004/consbc/letteraboutseatbeltwearingin1241. 
  10. ^ "Motorcyclist murdered on motorway: A motorcyclist has been shot dead while riding along the M40 in Warwickshire.". BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation). 12 August 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/coventry_warwickshire/6943213.stm. Retrieved 13 August 2007. 
  11. ^ Ffrench, Andrew (13 August 2007). "M40 remains closed after shooting". Oxford Mail (Newsquest Media Group). http://www.oxfordmail.net/display.var.1613018.0.m40_remains_closed_after_shooting.php. Retrieved 13 August 2007. 
  12. ^ "M40 murder: CCTV released". thelondonpaper (News International Limited). 20 August 2007. http://www.thelondonpaper.com/cs/Satellite/london/news/article/1157148681266?packedargs=suffix%3DArticleController. Retrieved 20 August 2007. [dead link]
  13. ^ "Under-21 United star over limit". BBC News. 3 March 2004. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/3529553.stm. Retrieved 6 May 2010. 
  14. ^ "Two die in 100-car pile-up". Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-107144/Two-die-100-car-pile-up.html. "Two people died today in a huge motorway pile-up involving more than 100 vehicles." 
  15. ^ "100-car death crash on M40". London Evening Standard. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-526210-100-car-death-crash-on-m40.do. "At least two people died in a 100-car pile-up on the London-bound section of the M40 today when fog cut visibility to 10 metres." 
  16. ^ "Traffic England Live Traffic Condition Map (selected Popups)". Highways Agency. http://www.trafficengland.com/map.aspx. Retrieved 11 November 2009. 
  17. ^ "Motorway Database » M40". CBRD. http://www.cbrd.co.uk/motorway/m40/. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  18. ^ "Bad Junctions - M40-A43". CBRD. http://www.cbrd.co.uk/badjunctions/40-43.shtml. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 

  External links



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