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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 M6, or 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 junctions 4 where is it reduced to 2 lanes 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 - although the logos on the motorway signs read 'Welcome Break KFC'. Cherwell Valley services (off Junction 10, A43) are operated by Moto. Warwick services (between Junctions 12 and 13) and are made up of two sites mirroring each other without a connection and are operated by Welcome Break, despite being signed as 'Welcome Break KFC'.

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


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) opening 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 Junctions 1 was completed in 1973. The section northbound from junction 5 to junction 8 (Pitmore to Chilworth just outside of Oxford) was completed in 1974. The High Wycombe to Oxford section was opened as dual two lane motorway with the section south of High Wycombe opening as dual three lane.[citation needed]


M40 at Burtley Wood.

File:M40 looking north west.jpg

M40 in Warwickshire

File:M40 Motorway, Heading West. Junction 3, One Mile To Go - - 1281566.jpg

The M40 heading westbound towards Junction 3 (High Wycombe)

By the turn of the 1980s, plans had been unveiled to extend the motorway from Oxford to Birmingham through Cherwell Valley and Warwickshire. This was constructed between 1988 and 1990 from Junction 8 joining the M42 (Junction 3A) near Hockley Heath. The short motorway spur linking Junction 8 to the A40 road leading to Oxford originally formed the final section of the motorway. The original plans to renumber the M42 between junctions 3A to the M5 as part of the M40 with priority going between the M40 and the eastbound section did not actually take place.

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.[2]

When the motorway extension to Birmingham was begun in 1989, the extended section was to be dual three lane motorway, and between 1990 and 1991 the remaining parts of the original M40 were widened to dual three motorway as well, and the work finished in January 1991 to create a dual three lane motorway from start to finish.

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. When the full motorway opened there were temporary toilet area situated off Junction 9 and the M40's first service station opened on the site of these toilets as Cherwell Valley services in 1994.[4] Oxford and Warwick opened in 1998 and Beaconsfield (near the site of the original proposed service station almost 40 years earlier) in 2009.

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 4 lane between junctions 1A and 3 (High Wycombe East) was under the 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 junction 3-4 section was well.

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).[5]

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.

In August 2010, work started on junction 9. This is the first part of the work at this busy juntion. The end result will be 3 lanes on the A34 northbound entrance. If there is funding, a second part will commence, upgrading the M40 northbound entrance as well as the A41 southbound entrance. These will most probably have 3 lanes too.


M40 minibus crash[]

Main article: M40 minibus crash

Just before midnight on 17 November 1993, a minibus transporting 14 children from a proms concert in London back to Hagley RC High School near Birmingham crashed into a parked motorway maintenance vehicle. 10 pupils and the teacher driving the vehicle died at the scene; two others died in hospital from their injuries over the next two days. The remaining two children recovered from relatively minor injuries.

An inquest the following summer recorded a verdict of accidental death on all of the victims. It was reported that none of the children in the minibus were wearing seatbelts, and the side-facing benches seating layout was also criticised as dangerous. This led to seatbelts becoming compulsory equipment on all coaches and minibuses (more than 20 years after they had been compulsory on cars) and only recently (more than a decade on) becoming law for them to be worn.[6]

August 2007 shooting[]

On 12 August 2007, a motor cycle rider was shot dead whilst travelling southbound between junctions 13 and 12. The motorway was closed the afternoon and evening of 12 August 2007, and the following day while police examined the scene.[7][8] The victim was identified as Canadian national Gerry Tobin and CCTV footage from immediately prior the incident was released. Tobin was a member of the Hells Angels on his way home from the Bulldog Bash.[9] In October 2008, a man pleaded guilty to Tobin's murder ahead of the trial of six other men on charges of murder and firearms offences.

Karl Garside, 45, and Ian Cameron, 46, both from Coventry, were found guilty by a 10-2 majority verdict of the killing in Warwickshire in August 2008.

Tobin, 35, from Mottingham, south east London, died almost instantly when he was shot as he rode along the M40 at about Template:Convert/LoffAoffDbSoff on 12 August.

The trial was told that Tobin was targeted because he was a Hell's Angel by members of the Outlaws South Warwickshire chapter.

It is believed his death may have been ordered by the leaders of a rival biker group in retaliation for a murder elsewhere in the world.

Simon Turner, 41, from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, and Dane Garside, Karl Garside's 42-year-old brother from Coventry, were found guilty on Monday of killing Mr Tobin and possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life.

Malcolm Bull, a 53-year-old road sweeper from Milton Keynes, and Dean Taylor, 47, from Coventry, were found guilty of murder and possessing a shotgun on Tuesday and yesterday.

Earlier, 44-year-old Coventry man Sean Creighton had pleaded guilty to murder and firearms charges

Other incidents[]

The South Buckinghamshire stretch of the motorway (between J1 and J5) is known for its high accident rate with the local paper, the Bucks Free Press, reporting crashes every few months.[10]

Jimmy Davis, a 21-year-old Watford footballer on loan from Manchester United, was killed on a stretch of the M40 in Oxfordshire in the early hours of 9 August 2003 when his BMW collided with a lorry. The lorry driver escaped with minor injuries, and the inquest revealed that Davis was in excess of the drink-drive limit and had been driving at speeds of up to Template:Convert/LoffAoffDbSoff.

Detailed routing[]

Also see:M40 corridor Template:Essay-like

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 Template:Convert/mi 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 Londonbound 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 Template:Convert/mi 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 Template:Convert/mi 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.

File:M40 - Chiltern Cutting - Stokenchurch.jpg

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. Template:Convert/mi 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.[11]

Just over Template:Convert/mi after junction 6 the motorway passes to within 100 metres of the prominent landmark of St Giles Church, Tetsworth and Template:Convert/mi 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, Template:Convert/mi 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.

The motorway then heads north on the extension section of the M40, reaching Junction 8A less than Template:Convert/mi after J8. This junction is 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 Template:Convert/mi 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 does back up and cause 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 Template:Convert/mi 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 Template:Convert/mi 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 (although it doesn't work because the new "design" forces A43 southbound traffic, wishing to join the M40 south, to cross paths with traffic leaving the M40 north, wishing to join the A43. This leads to huge tailbacks on the M40 north as priority, at the roundabout, is given to traffic leaving the A43 - by way of only traffic leaving the southbound M40 bound for the service area or the B430 can interrupt southbound traffic flow from the A43 to the M40). 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 now is 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.[12]

The motorway then follows a winding route north for Template:Convert/mi 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 Template:Convert/mi 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 Template:Convert/mi 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 Template:Convert/mi 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.


Data[13] 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
Template:No2No 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
Template:No2No access J7 Thame, Wallingford, A329
Template:No2No 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
Warwick Services Services Warwick Services
Template:No2No access J13 Leamington, Warwick A452
Leamington A452 J14 Template:No2No access
Warwick A429
Stratford, Coventry A46 Leicester (M69)
J15 Warwick A429
Stratford, Coventry A46 Leicester (M69)
Henley A3400 J16 Template:No2No 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

Coordinate list[]

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. Template:Cite news
  3. Google map is location.
  4. M40 Motorway. CBRD.
  5. Highways Agency. Retrieved on 2010-01-21.
  6. Department for Transport Advisory Letter on Seatbelt Wearing
  7. Template:Cite news
  8. Template:Cite news
  9. Template:Cite news[dead link]
  10. The Bucks Free Press Website
  11. [1]
  12. CBRD - Bad Junctions - M40-A43
  13. Traffic England Live Traffic Condition Map (selected Popups). Highways Agency. Retrieved on 2009-11-11.

External links[]

Template:Commons category


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