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File:M20, Aylesford, Kent - - 190820.jpg

Looking east near Aylesford.

The M20 is a motorway in Kent, England. It runs from the M25 motorway to Folkestone, providing a link to the Channel Tunnel and the ports at Dover. It is Template:Convert/mi long. Although not signposted in England, this road is part of the European route E15.


File:Eurostar on CTRL.jpg

A Eurostar train runs on the High Speed 1 route alongside the M20.

The road starts at its junction with the M25 motorway and A20 road just east of Swanley, then continues south east across the River Darent, north of Farningham through the North Downs, past West Kingsdown and Wrotham to meet the M26. It then strikes east, running north of Addington. When it reaches Junction 4 it passes south of New Hythe and runs parallel to the Medway Valley railway line before crossing it close to junction 5. This next section is the Maidstone bypass. High Speed 1 then runs parallel to the motorway as it continues to the north of Bearsted, crosses the Swanley to Ashford (via Maidstone East) Line then out into the countryside alongside Leeds Castle. Proceeding south of Lenham and Charing it is crossed by the Ashford and CTRL railway lines before becoming the Ashford bypass. Travelling past Brabourne Lees it is once again joined by the CTRL and the East Stour.

Just north of Saltwood it reaches the Channel Tunnel terminal and is crossed by HS1 for the last time. The final section runs along the northern suburbs of Folkestone.


Original construction[]

The M20 was, in common with many United Kingdom motorways, opened in stages[1][2]:

  • Junctions 5 to 7 opened in 1960
  • Junctions 7 to 8 opened in 1961
These sections of the M20 were known as the Maidstone Bypass. This road was then numbered as the A20(M)[3] as it bypassed the stretch of A20 through Maidstone which was renumbered A2020. This was the first stretch of motorway to open south of London.[4] When the motorway was extended westwards towards London in the 1970s, it was renamed M20 and the A2020 reverted back to A20.
  • Junctions 3 to 5 in 1971
  • Junctions 1 to 2 in 1977
This section actually ended at a temporary junction near West Kingsdown.[5]
  • Temporary Terminus to Junction 3 in 1980

This section of the route was difficult to construct due to its steep descent down the North Downs escarpment.

  • Junctions 11 to 13 in 1981 - constructed by the company - Dowsett
  • Junctions 9 to 11 in 1981 - Constructed by the company - Dowsett

The section around Ashford (Junctions 9-10) was originally the A20 Ashford Bypass with actual construction having started before World War 2 - although the route itself was not completed until well after the war. The bypass started at Willesborough near the current location of the Junction 10 and terminated south of the existing Junction 9 at the current Maidstone Road roundabout. A section of the old bypass is still visible now named Simone Weil Avenue. The original bridge that brought Canterbury Road over the bypass is still visible as the bridge was not reconstructed when the motorway was constructed. This section of motorway has no hard shoulder indicating the smaller width of the old bypass.

This left the motorway in two sections, with the Template:Convert/mi gap running via the A20 - this was referred to locally as The Missing Link.[6] The level of traffic was not considered necessary to complete the route. Most of the traffic for the channel ports was using the A2/M2 route. When the Channel Tunnel was ready for construction, it was decided to complete the M20 between Junctions 8 and 9 and this opened in 1991. Concurrent to this was the extension to Dover as part of the A20 which opened in 1993.[5] A new junction was also constructed (11A) for the Channel Tunnel.

Operational history[]

Following completion of the junction 8 to 9 section, the M20 was 3 lanes either side of the original A20(M) section. This was a bottleneck, so it was decided to widen this section of motorway. The road here was increased to a dual 3 or 4 lane road with 2 lane distributor roads either side. This section was opened in 1995.[5]

Between 2006 and 2007 Junction 10 near Ashford was remodelled to increase capacity Work when the bridges across the motorway was modified to provide three lanes of traffic at the roundabout, and local approach roads were widened, with new traffic lights to control traffic flows at the junction between the A292 Hythe Road and the London-bound M20 entry slip road. A new footbridge was also constructed across the motorway.[7] The cost was £4.9 million.[8]

Proposed developments[]

Junction 10a[]

The Highways Agency has proposed a new M20 Junction 10a and link road to the A2070 at Ashford in Kent, east of Junction 10 [9] to support the development of South Ashford which has been identified as a growth area in the South East.

Active traffic management[]

A section of the M20 in West Kent - Junction 3-5 - has been highlighted as a candidate for the development of active traffic management which would see the hard shoulder used as a running lane due periods of heavy traffic flow.

Operation Stack[]

See main article: Operation Stack.

Since the opening of the Channel Tunnel, sections of the M20 have been used occasionally for the implementation of Operation Stack, should the ferries or Channel Tunnel stop running. This closes that part of the motorway and uses the area as a lorry park until the ferries and Channel Tunnel are fully running again.


Data[10] from driver location signs are used to provide distance and carriageway identifier information. Where a junction spans several hundred metres and start and end points are available, both are cited.

M20 Motorway
km Westbound exits (B Carriageway) Junction Eastbound exits (A Carriageway)
Road continues as A20 to London J1 The NORTH, Dartford Crossing A2,
Stansted Airport (M11),
The WEST, Sevenoaks(A21),
Reigate(A217), Gatwick Airport (M23), Heathrow Airport (M4) M25
Swanley B2173
28.7 The NORTH, Stansted Airport (M11), The WEST M25
Swanley B2173
Start of motorway
Template:No2 No access J2 Paddock Wood, Wrotham A20
Gravesend, Tonbridge A227
The WEST, Sevenoaks (A25), Reigate (A217)
Gatwick (M23)
Heathrow (M4, M25) M26
J3 Template:No2 No access
West Malling, Rochester, Tonbridge A228 J4 West Malling, Rochester, New Hythe A228
Aylesford A20 J5 Maidstone, Aylesford A20
Maidstone, Chatham A229 J6 Maidstone, Chatham A229
Maidstone, Sittingbourne, Sheerness A249 J7 Maidstone, Sittingbourne, Sheerness, Ramsgate A249
Maidstone (East) A20 J8 Lenham A20
Ashford (West) A20
Tenterden, Canterbury A28
Faversham A251
J9 Ashford A20
Faversham A251
Ashford A292
Hastings A2070
J10 Ashford A292
Canterbury A28
Canterbury B2068
Hythe (A261)
Etchinghill A20
J11 Canterbury B2068
Hythe (A261)
Etchinghill A20
105.8 Template:No2 No access J11a Channel Tunnel
Cheriton, Channel Tunnel A20
Etchinghill A20
J12 Cheriton, Channel Tunnel A20
Etchinghill A20
Start of motorway J13 Folkestone A20
Folkestone A20 Road continues as A20 to Dover

See also[]


External links[]


|group2= Northern Ireland |list2= M1Template:·w M2Template:·w M3Template:·w M5Template:·w M12Template:·w M22Template:·w A8(M)

|group3= former |list3= M10Template:·w M41Template:·w M63Template:·w A18(M)Template:·w A40(M)Template:·w A41(M)Template:·w A102(M)Template:·w A6144(M)

|group4= unbuilt |list4= New M4 Template:·w M12Template:·w M13Template:·w M15Template:·w M16Template:·w M31Template:·w M64 }} Template:Transport in London


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