I drive the M25 a lot (if that isn`t a contradiction in terms!) and I absolutely loath the variable speed limits imposed on the stretch from the A3 to round about the M40. In my opinion, they serve no useful purpose, other than to bunch all the traffic up in one place and forcing them down to a snail`s pace. How this can be judged a success is completely beyond my comprehension and I`ve yet to find anyone who disagrees with me. It would be nice if, at peak times, traffic was actually able to go at the 40 m.p.h. shown on the signs but, as anyone knows who goes anti-clockwise at around 5.0.p.m. (especially on a Friday!) quite often it would be quicker to get out the car and walk. The extra, recently-built lane seems to have made little or no difference and I dread to think what the situation will be like when Heathrow Terminal 5 opens its doors for business.
Speaking of Heathrow, I recall one infamous Saturday morning trip I made there. Normally not a problem at the weekend. Expected travelling time from my base - around 1 hour, 15 mins. Instead, it took just over 2 hours, 30 mins! All the advisory matrix signs were on 40 m.p.h. and the compulsory signs were the same. The combined result - total gridlock virtually all the way. There were no accidents - the only "hazard" being pouring rain, so I can only assume that some kindly soul in a control-room somewhere saw fit to try and slow everything down and that he certainly did. It also took me the best part of 2 hours to travel the 70-odd miles back home after spending a fruitless 2 hours at the airport, because my passengers didn`t turn up (but that, as they say, is another story!). Needless to say, I was not best pleased and rattled off an e-mail to the Ministry of Transport, thoroughly castigating them, and suggesting that they seem to have completely lost sight of the fact that motorways were, in fact, originally supposed to have been designed with the idea of carrying high-speed traffic to decrease journey times and the idea of speed-limits does rather seem to negate that theory. Needless to say, the answer (which came from the leader of the team responsible for that stretch of motorway - wow!) was far from satisfactory, obviously consisting, more-or-less, of a copy and paste of the specification of the system that runs the limits signs, apparently triggered by sensors placed in the carriageway every couple of hundred metres and how marvellously it all worked! This was some time ago and their final paragraph went something like: "There are many far-reaching schemes being discussed to ease the traffic flow on the M25, including extending the variable speed limits all the way round". It looks like something similar is now coming to fruition. I cannot believe that someone, somewhere up there in their tower of power, wants to downgrade the motorways in this fashion. Surely the whole idea is to get the traffic moving - not to impose draconian speed limits enforced by the dreaded cameras, which, as most people suspect, are purely an instrument of revenue, anyway, despite all the denials and the grand term "safety cameras". All I can say (in true taxi driver fashion) is "Gawd `elp us guv`nor!"