A new Highways England scheme between junction 28 (Mansfield) and junction 31 (Worksop) of the M1 motorway went live this week, permanently converting the hard shoulder into an additional lane. The £205 million project, designed to improve journey times and reduce congestion along the 20-mile section, is the first smart motorway in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire. Variable speed limits will be utilised along this section in a bid to keep vehicles moving and putting an end to the stop-start driving conditions of the past. It is part of a £15 billion Government investment in Britain's motorways and A-roads by 2021, which should have considerable benefits for the fleet industry. Andrew Jones, roads minister, said: 'The completion of the smart motorway on this section of the M1 will make a real difference to people travelling between Mansfield, Chesterfield and Worksop, delivering better and smoother journeys, helping businesses and boosting the local economy. 'This is all part of our plans to build a road network that is fit for the future, with a record £15 billion going into improving our roads, reducing congestion and keeping Britain moving.î Contractors for Highways England have worked 1.75 million combined hours in order to complete the scheme, which will improve journeys for as many as 95,000 drivers a day using this stretch of road. A similar smart motorway scheme was completed last year on the M25 helped to halve the busiest journey times whilst reduce the number of road collisions by 20 per cent. Andy Kirk, senior programme manager, Highways England, said: 'The new smart motorway will tackle congestion and improve journey times for the thousands of drivers who use it every day. 'The hard shoulder has been permanently converted to an extra lane to significantly increase capacity, and we'll keep vehicles moving using variable speed limits. 'We'd also like to thank drivers for their co-operation during the work and look forward to improving journey times for those travelling between the East Midlands and South Yorkshire.î Note: Drivers using the upgraded smart stretch of the M1 will also be able to use emergency refuge areas in the event of a breakdown.