Road Test: Scania P320 Hybrid

Electric trucks don’t have the range to be viable for many applications. They cost too much and are heavy. But could a diesel truck with an electric motor for town running be a sensible option? Trucking took a Scania P320 Hybrid out for a spin…

By Pip Dunn

I like to think of myself as at least conscious that we need to reduce harmful emissions into the atmosphere, if not for us, then for our kids and more importantly our kids’ kids. We have to future proof the globe for those future generations.

And part of the way to do that is to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and the harmful emission they produce and switch to so-called greener forms of energy. But it has to be done sensibly. Especially when we are loath to pay for it.

But I also believe the road haulage industry has done more than its fair share to reach those goals. Over the last three decades, we have seen diesel engine technology improve immeasurably in its quest to reduce emissions. At the risk of sounding like a broken record here, compare a Euro 6e truck engine with a Euro 0 truck, and the reduction in emissions is utterly remarkable and all for the good.

Not only that, but these new engines are also more fuel-efficient. Using less fuel also means fewer emissions and lower operating costs. Compare a Scania 460R Super from 2023 with, say, a new Scania 113 from 1988. They are poles apart in every field – efficiency, emissions, not to mention driver comfort and total cost of ownership.

But exhaust emissions are still there, albeit much reduced, and the drive to reduce them continues further. One way is eliminating the use of diesel fuel altogether. I have mixed views on the seemingly desperate drive to move to alternative fuels, which often can be a little blinkered. But I accept they are coming.

First up, the shift from diesel to electric or hydrogen is not like the shift from steam to diesel a century or more ago. That was – in its more simplistic case – a case of changing the fuel type and how it is used for propulsion rather than how it goes into the ‘engine’. In fact that switch was better as a tank full of diesel was much less labour intensive – and safer – than shovelling coal into a fire.

The biggest issue with the move to electrification, gas or other fuels is that requires a massive shift and investment in refuelling infrastructure. I have said, that to make fully electrified trucks, you will need a charging point in every parking bay of every truckstop or Motorway Service Area. Who will fund that investment? And despite it being a ‘public service’, many will insist such infrastructure ‘has to make a profit’.

I’m also of the view we are – at least initially – currently trying to electrify the wrong sorts of trucks. Well, that’s not strictly speaking completely true but what I mean is we need to prioritise the shift to electric vans, buses, taxis and local distribution trucks before we start to look at the same shift for heavy trucks.

Indeed, lowering harmful emissions in towns and cities has to be a priority and here I think hybrid technology has an important part to play. A truck that can run on diesel for the longer distance part of its work, out in the countryside and open spaces, and then shift to emission-free electric running when in built-up areas with mass population.

With that in mind, I was pleased to take a Scania P320 hybrid 6×2 rigid out for a drive. This truck is similar to the standard P320 in the fact it is fitted with the same DC09 9-litre five-cylinder SCR engine rated at 320hp at 1,900rpm and delivering a useful 1,600Nm of torque over a 1,050-1,350rpm band. It had the GRS895 12-speed gearbox and was fitted with the flat-roofed low-day cab. The rear axle is the R660 with a 1:2.92 ratio.

But where it differs is that it also has an integrated eMotor assist. Rated at 115kW (154hp) and 1,050Nm, it allows the truck to run wholly off electric power, but only for a short range of about an hour tops. However, those short distances can be where emission-free driving counts the most; in towns and cities where there are more people.

The truck had the slightly extended day cab which offers some useable room behind the seats for the driver’s personal effects,. Like all Scanias, however, the P series is part of a modular concept which means you can have this truck with the short day cab, the flat roof sleeper, the normal height sleeper or the high roof sleeper. You could also order it with a G or R cab of you need more space.

But that said, given the work this truck is doing its unlikely you’d need much other than a standard P or G day or sleeper cab. You can also get it as a 4×2 rigid for 18 tonnes.

On the road

The Hybrid concept is therefore simple – load the truck in an urban area, run on electric power until clear of the conurbation, then switch to diesel to undertake the ‘trunking’ during which time the battery will recharge, then when you arrive in the town, the driver can switch back to electric power for their raft of deliveries.

You have the ‘get out of jail’ card that if you start to run low on charge, then you can still switch to diesel as and when you need to. Provided you are carrying enough diesel, you won’t get stuck. A full recharge is done overnight or in between shifts, while the driver can top it up during their 45-minute break – assuming they are next to a charging point.

I was intrigued to see how this truck performed and what the business case for it. I took the truck for a run from the Scania training centre at Charnwood near Loughborough and headed out on a circular route with all manner of roads types, starting by heading of on the A46 towards Radcliffe then into Nottingham and back down the A453 to Ratcliffe and onto the M1 for a couple of junctions and back to the base. It was a good workout for sure.

But what I was interested in was the switch in power. On the road running on its diesel mode, it performed just like a typical Scania P series. It had plenty of power, 320hp is ideally suited for a 6×2 26-tonne chassis  – although it’s not uncommon to see Scania 6×2 rigids with the 360hp version of the DC09 or even then 370/410hp version of the 13-litre DC13 engine.

So on the road, there is perhaps not too much to report, other than it was a typically smooth drive that I’ve come to expect from a P series Scania, with seamless gearshifts and minimal noise inside the well-appointed day cab. The dash is the same as the diesel-only version, and pretty much everything else is the same, so there should be no issues with familiarity for your driver.

Once in the city it’s time to switch modes, and here a simple flick of the switch on the dashboard to the left of the dash sees the truck change to electric power. The engine cuts out and the trucks glides effortlessly into electric mode. This means there are no exhaust emissions and virtually no noise; you can just about hear the slightest of whines as the motors do their stuff, but essentially the truck is now ultra-quiet.

That’s great in the city, although the driver needs to be on their guard as pedestrians, often in a world of their own with headphones or glued to their mobile phone screens may not hear you approaching and have an alarming tendency to walk out into roads with no regard for the possible presence of quiet electric vehicles!

Performance on electric is comparable with diesel although the more you accelerate, the quicker the battery’s charge will decrease. But for the short burst you are likely to use it, it’s fine.

I deliberately used it on electric power for as much as possible to see how the truck performed. But actually the truck comfortably got me out of the environs of Nottingham and onto the A453 with sufficient charge, so I stayed on electric right down to the M1. That represented a good few miles, so over the day I probably saved three gallons or more of diesel just by ‘playing around’ on the electric function.

Once you get used to the truck’s capabilities I can see drivers switching their driving behaviour accordingly and it is just plain common sense to reduce the use of the diesel. And once on the M1, and up to 56mph the battery starts to recharge rather nicely so I would have enough charge to glide into Loughborough town centre on electric had I chosen to do so.


Everyone has an opinion on alternative fuels, but the fact is, there is a drive to eliminate diesel full stop. In fact from 2040, theoretically, you won’t be able to buy a new diesel truck in the EU, and that will also apply to the UK.

That might seem an age away, but it’s on its way and it’ll be here before we know it. So the industry is right to be – pardon the pun – plugging electric options heavily. The question still remains, can the infrastructure been increased quickly enough to make this power shift viable and affordable?

Remember such investment will means we’ll need charging points the length and breadth of the country, from rural Cornwall to the Scottish Highlands – although as an aside, I was amused to see a charging point at the remote outpost of Achnasheen Railway station in March (ironically with a Scania G450 8×4 diesel tipper parked near it!)

I have no doubt that electric trucks will work and those we currently have will be further improved on in the next three, five, ten years. If the battery life can offer a full day’s use and range without the need to recharge until the end of the shift, coupled with an abundance of recharging infrastructure then there is no reason why they can’t work. Battery technology is improving, and will continue to do so. Who know, it will also probably become easier as well. Who is to say there won’t be a system soon where trucks park over a charging pad in a truckstop which then makes contact with a charging pad on the truck to automatically rechange without the need to connect them?

But if that range can improve, and that infrastructure keeps up, then battery trucks are likely to be the future. However, many think that day is going to be much, much closer to 2040 than to 2023.

And with that in mind, in the meantime hybrids have a lot going for them – the ability to be eco-friendly in busy and built up areas, yet not hamstrung by range issues as well having the flexibility to use a diesel engine should they need to.

With this Scania, once you get used to it, you can use electricity as much as it will allow, for example, if you start the day on electric, switch to diesel, use electric for deliveries and then diesel for the way home, on that final you can actually switch to electric and basically run the battery down knowing you’ll be fully recharging it back at base, and in that respect it could seriously slash your diesel bills by 18% according to Scania.

That will help offset the higher cost of the truck. That said, I can see leasing as probably the best option for acquiring this, or indeed any other type of new alternative fuels truck for the next few years until the technology really reaches its peak and optimum efficiency. You don’t want to buy something and them be lumbered with an obsolete, old technology trucks in five years’ time that has little resale value or faces an expensive upgrade?

So currently this Scania is a very good proposition as a best of both worlds option to reduce your emissions and fuel bills without limiting you on its productivity.

It is a lower emission, more fuel efficient truck that won’t ever leave you fretting over low charge. It is quietest and cleanest in the areas it needs to be the most, there’s no lack of performance and it is a perfect fit for middle- to short-distance inner-urban distribution.

If it suits your operation, then it is well with checking out. It could be the sensible compromise that is the perfect fit for the current day.

We like

  • Quiet on electric
  • Potential to reduce fuel bills
  • Scania quality
  • Good performance

We don’t like

  • Residuals unknown
  • Technology could overtake it


Scania P320 Hybrid 6×2/4

  • Design GCW: 26,000kg
  • Chassis: 5,100mm wheelbase
  • Front axle: 8,000kg capacity.
  • Rear axle: 11,500kg (midlift) 7,500kg (mid lift).
  • Gearbox: GRS895 12-speed
  • Engine: DC09 9-litre 5-cylinder in line, Euro 6e
  • Max power: 320bhp @ 1,900 rpm
  • Max torque: 1,600Nm @ 1,050-1,350rpm
  • Cab: P Low extended day

This first appeared in the AUGUST 2023 issue of Trucking Mag. You can order single copies or a digital or print subscription online

Watford roadworks plus A41 Berrygrove Interchange closure

The M1 Junction 5 Roundabout at the Berrygrove Interchange is due to be closed overnight from March 3 to March 21 while the works take place.

Disruption is also likely in Beechen Grove, Watford, when a lane is set to be shut for ten days to enable a crane to be dismantled, while roadworks lasting for two weeks are also poised to start early next at the junction of Whippendell Road and Hagden Lane.

The following information is sourced from the One.Network website and is a selection of the roadworks due to take place in our area in the coming weeks:

- A road closure will be in place from 8am to 6pm, from Monday to Friday, March 1 in Colne Way, Watford, for works by UK Power Networks.

- Affinity Water are due to be carrying out works in St Albans Road, Watford – adjacent to the Dome Roundabout – from Monday to Thursday, February 29. ‘Give and take’ traffic control measures will be in place.

- Drivers are likely to experience delays in Hagden Lane, Watford, from Wednesday to Friday, March 1 while Affinity Water carry out works. Two-way traffic lights will be in use.

- A lane is set to be closed in Beechen Grove, Watford, between Friday, March 1 and March 10 to allow a crane to be dismantled. This work is due to take place outside the Regal Construction Site including a layby.

- The A41 Berrygrove Interchange M1 Junction 5 Roundabout is due to be closed overnight for more than two weeks for resurfacing work. The closure will be in place from 10am to 5am daily, from March 3 to March 21 and will affect all approaches to the roundabout including Stephenson Way, North Western Avenue and Otterspool Way. A diversion will be in place.

- Delays are likely in Whippendell Road, Watford, from March 4 to March 6 due to works by Affinity Water. Two-way traffic lights will be in use at this time.

- A daytime road closure will be in place in Harford Drive, Watford, from March 4 to March 6 for works by Thames Water. The street will be shut to motorists from 8am to 5pm daily.

- Works by Grain Connect are set to cause delays lasting two weeks at the junction of Whippendell Road and Hagden Lane, Watford. The work is scheduled to take place from 8am to 5pm daily, from March 7 to March 20 and multi-way traffic lights will be used to help traffic flow.

UK motorway reduced from 70mph to 60mph in ‘trial’

New UK motorway rules are seeing £8,000 per day racked up in fines[1]. A smart motorway has collected over £8,000 daily in fines after reducing the pathway’s speed limit from 70 mph to 60 mph amid the Cost of Living crisis.

This camera[2] is along the M1 between junction 33 and 34 close to Sheffield and Rotherham in the road’s northbound stretch near Brinsworth, GB News[3] reports. Over 22,000 motorists were hit with speeding fines along the M1, figures show.

When asked whether the 60 mph trial had improved pollution, Stephen Elderkin, National Highways’ Director of Environmental Sustainability, said: “We are working hard to finalise the analysis of the vast amount of data collected and will be publishing the reports in due course."

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: “With speeding at a record high, it is a timely reminder that the best regulator of speed is the driver’s right foot.” A Government spokesperson told The Telegraph: “Speeding on any road is dangerous, which is why we have strict laws in place against it, and fines help to enforce them.

“Recognising public concerns, we’ve cancelled new smart motorways and we’re investing £900million for safety improvements, including progressing the construction of 150 extra emergency areas.” All new smart motorways were scrapped in 2023 amid safety concerns.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: "All drivers deserve to have confidence in the roads they use to get around the country. That’s why last year I pledged to stop the building of all new smart motorways, and today I’m making good on that promise.

"Many people across the country rely on driving to get to work, to take their children to school and go about their daily lives and I want them to be able to do so with full confidence that the roads they drive on are safe." Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: "We want the public to know that this government is listening to their concerns.

"Today’s announcement means no new smart motorways will be built, recognising the lack of public confidence felt by drivers and the cost pressures due to inflation."


  1. ^ per day racked up in fines (www.birminghammail.co.uk)
  2. ^ This camera (www.birminghammail.co.uk)
  3. ^ GB News (www.gbnews.com)
  4. ^

Campaigner wants parish poll to gauge opinion on controversial Derbyshire housing scheme

Watch more of our videos on Shots!  and live on Freeview channel 276

Visit Shots! now[1]

Bolsover District Council is considering Waystone Ltd’s planning application for the Clowne Garden Village housing scheme for 1,800 properties with 24 hectares of greenfield land for mixed-development and employment, as well as community and commercial facilities between Clowne and Barlborough.

But following hundreds of planning objections from residents, a Clowne Garden Village Action Group petition with over 1,300 names, and Bolsover MP Mark Fletcher’s recent survey results which he claims showed 95per cent of 276 residents who answered questions were opposed to the development.

Clowne Garden Village Action Group Chairperson Dom Webb, who has also been pushing for a Judicial Review to challenge Bolsover District Council’s handling of the planning application, has begun enquiries about organising a parish poll to further outline Clowne villagers’ feelings about the housing scheme.

Clowne Garden Village Housing ProtestorsClowne Garden Village Housing Protestors Clowne Garden Village Housing Protestors

Mr Web stated: “Our action group is going to trigger the parish poll process so that the question of whether residents want the Clowne Garden Village planning development can be asked.”

The determined campaigner has written to Clowne Parish Council and Bolsover District Council to try and organise a parish poll to coincide with the Mayoral and Police Crime Commissioner elections on May 2 after the Tibshelf Neighbourhood Plan referendum had been allowed to run alongside district elections in 2023.

However, given Bolsover District Council’s reluctance to combine the three polls at the same time, Mr Webb is now considering triggering a parish poll on the Clowne Garden Village scheme before May 2.

He stated: “Without debating the merits of the planning application, it is fair to say we won’t struggle getting the parish poll approved in terms of calling the meeting, voting on a question and triggering the parish poll.”

Mr Webb also argued there would have been savings to the parish and district councils if the proposed poll was allowed to take place during elections on May 2 with just one extra vote for people to consider at the polling stations.

However, Bolsover District Council’s Director of Governance and Monitoring Officer Jim Fieldsend stated in a reply to Mr Webb that the prescribed times for parish polls are 4pm to 9pm and differ from the Mayoral and PCC election polling times of 7am to 10pm and could cause confusion and this is unlikely to be accepted by the returning officers.

Mr Fieldsend also explained that parish polls are aimed at merely obtaining the opinion of a parish and that the result is not legally binding.

He added that parish polls can be requested by either ten electors or one third of electors present and by voting at a parish meeting but postal votes or voting by proxy are not allowed.

Parish polls involve voting by marking an X in either a yes or no answer box to a question on a ballot paper and the results are posted on district council websites and parish council websites and district and parish council notice boards, according to Mr Fieldsend.

Mr Fieldsend said that district councils recharge the relevant parish or town council for the estimated cost of around £6,000 for parish polls.

Mr Webb who has been pushing for a Judicial Review to challenge Bolsover District Council’s handling of the residential planning application says he has also written to the Secretary of State for the Home Department to consider the progress of the proposed Clowne Garden Village scheme.

He has claimed when an original application was submitted after 2017 it did not match the district council’s Local Plan[2] at that time and after the application was delayed it was then allegedly included prejudicially in the subsequent 2020 Local Plan which would support its progress.

The district council has provided comprehensive explanations and a timeline claiming the proposed development has always been part of the Local Plan since 2016 and it has insisted that consideration of the planning application will continue.

Mr Webb has also argued the release of Green Belt land from preservation to allow for the development was also allegedly unlawful because he claims there were no special circumstances to do this and this land should be returned to Green Belt protection.

But the district council has stated that following a robust review “exceptional circumstances” were legally cited allowing the removal of this area from Green Belt preservation.

The district council has stated it has to meet housing and affordable housing targets because of nationwide shortages and there is a strategy to expand Clowne and this site could involve a progressive 20-year long process.

Clowne Garden Village Action Group campaigners, from Clowne and Barlborough, have previously raised concerns about the development’s possible impact on highways and existing services, the loss of countryside and wildlife, as well as fears about drainage, flooding and overcrowding.

Bolsover MP Mr Fletcher has also claimed the housing scheme could increase the population of the area by nearly 50 per cent and that the amount of actual affordable housing will be negligible.

The council has stated that it is considering all submissions and concerns including the possible impact on the road network, the environment, flooding and the use of Green Belt land being freed-up for exempted-use.

Waystone has also stated there is support for the scheme in terms of the potential for economic growth, facilities and jobs.

The council has stressed it is continuing to deal with the planning application for the proposed housing development between the two Derbyshire[3] villages, north of Clowne including part of the village centre off Hickinwood Lane, in accordance with legislation and guidance and it will be submitted to a future planning committee for consideration.

Mr Webb added Clowne Garden Village Action Group would not be looking to trigger a parallel parish poll in nearby Barlborough about the housing scheme after learning about new expected highway changes at the Treble Bob roundabout and with the Junction 30 M1 motorway circular plans.


  1. ^ Visit Shots! now (www.shotstv.com)
  2. ^ Local Plan (www.derbyshiretimes.co.uk)
  3. ^ Derbyshire (www.derbyshiretimes.co.uk)

M1 live updates as drivers face major delays due to vehicle fire between junction 21a and junction 22

Drivers face delays of at least 30 minutes due to a vehicle fire on the M1. The incident initially closed the motorway in both directions, between junction 21a for Kirkby Muxloe and junction 22 for Markfield, affecting traffic heading through Leicestershire.

The southbound carriageway has reopened but the northbound stretch remains closed. Officials from the National Highways agency says there are delays of at least 30 minutes.

The police, fire crews and traffic officers are at the scene as of 1pm on Friday afternoon, February 16.

A diversion route is in place for drivers heading northbound:

  • Exit at J21a on to the A46.
  • Keep right to join the A46 Leicester Western Bypass.
  • Exit at the interchange with the A50.
  • At the roundabout take the first exit on to the A50 Markfield Road. Continue on the A50 to J22 of the M1.
  • At the junction roundabout take the fourth exit to re-join the M1 northbound.

Motorway cameras show hefty tailbacks on the motorway - and traffic heading towards junction 22 is reported to be moving very slowly, according to traffic map Waze. Follow our blog for live updates, below.

‘Role model’: family pays tribute to woman killed in M25 crash

Zoe Hawes [1]

‘Role model’: family pays tribute to woman killed in M25 crash

Zoe Hawes, 40, was travelling to celebrate her birthday when she collided with a van evading police

The family of a woman killed in a collision on the M25 shortly after a motorway police pursuit have paid tribute to their “role model”.

Zoe Hawes, 40, was travelling from Essex to celebrate her birthday last Sunday when she was involved in a fatal collision with a van on the M25. Shortly before the crash, the van was being pursued by officers. They stood down before the collision. A second man, travelling in a different vehicle, was also killed in the crash.

The driver of the van was taken to hospital in a serious condition, where he remains. A man in his 20s has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

In a tribute, the family said: “Zoe was the heart of our blended family. She was a role model to everyone and the centre of our family. She was a very much loved mum, stepmum, sister, aunt and lovely young nanna.

“She was a friend to many. She was very much looking [forward] to go on holiday to celebrate her 40th with her husband. Sadly, a holiday and birthday she didn’t get to celebrate. We are all trying to pull together as a family and are devastated to lose Zoe in this tragic way.

“We wouldn’t have changed her for the world and she leaves an enormous hole in our family that will never be filled.”

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it was gathering and reviewing evidence to piece together the circumstances surrounding the incident. This includes securing and reviewing police dashcam footage and officers’ bodyworn video footage, obtaining motorway CCTV and reviewing police call logs and radio transmissions.

The IOPC said it had established that “at around 3.40am, police officers saw a white Citroën Dispatch van travelling on the M1, which had been reported stolen.

“Shortly after, the officers turned on their vehicle’s lights and sirens in an attempt to stop the driver of the van. After the driver failed to stop, officers initiated a pursuit, which was abandoned because the officers assessed that the risk of continuing was too high.

“There was a subsequent pursuit of the van shortly before 4am on Breakspear Way, which was abandoned a few minutes later.

“A short time later the van was then seen by a police officer travelling on the wrong side of the M25. The officer followed the van on the correct side of the road but did not activate the vehicle’s lights or sirens.

“At approximately 4.08am, the van was involved in a collision with other vehicles on the M25 between junctions 21a and 22, Watford and St Albans.”

The IOPC’s regional director, Charmaine Arbouin, said: “Our thoughts are with all those affected by this tragic incident. Given that police officers were pursuing one of the vehicles before the fatal collision, it’s important that we independently investigate the actions and decision-making of the officers involved.

“We will ensure that our inquiries do not impede the police investigation, and we will keep those involved regularly updated.”

The collision is being investigated by Essex police, who have appealed for information.

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  1. ^ (www.theguardian.com)
  2. ^ UK news (www.theguardian.com)
  3. ^ Reuse this content (syndication.theguardian.com)

Fog: Motorways-M2 closed from Lahore to Kot Momin

Lahore: The plain areas of Punjab including Lahore are covered with heavy fog, due to which the visibility is very low and the highway has also been closed at various places.

According to the spokesperson of Motorways, M1 Peshawar to Burhan, M2 Lahore to Kot Momin, M3 and M4 have been closed due to fog. M5 from Sher Shah to Zahir Peer, Lahore Sialkot Motorway is also closed.

Motorways-M14 Kharpa Taisi Khel, Swat Expressway from Colonel Sher Khan to Ismaila is closed due to fog.

The Spokesperson Motorways has instructed the citizens to avoid unnecessary travel.

It is pertinent to note that Lahore was engulfed in heavy fog early in the morning. Due to which the visibility in the city was very low and the air pollution also remained unchanged.

Due to the fog that started late at night, the visibility was reduced to 10 meters and the overall Air Quality Index (AQI) was recorded as 190.

The little-known literary pilgrimage around London’s suburbs

Only a handful of authors have earned the distinction of an entry in the Collins English Dictionary[1]. “Ballardian”, we are told, means “resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in the works of J. G. Ballard, esp dystopian modernity, bleak artificial landscapes, and the psychological effects of technological, social, or environmental[2] developments.” 

Related Article

Ballard (1930-2009) is best known for two books: Crash[3] (1973), about car-crash fetishists who get turned on by accidents; and Empire of the Sun[4] (1984), a semi-autobiographical novel about growing up on a prisoner of war camp in Shanghai – adapted by Tom Stoppard and made into a 1987 film of the same name by Steven Spielberg.[5] Other novels and stories, many with a sci-fi bent, explore environmental disasters, the power of dreams, murders, massacres and the role of the mass media.

It might not sound like ideal territory for a literary pilgrimage, but Ballard had an acute sense of place and a fascination with suburbia. He lived for most of his life in Shepperton, a suburb just outside south-west London, and was interested in – even obsessed with – the functional architecture[6] of modern life: multi-storey car parks, motorway flyovers, shopping malls and gated communities. One of his key themes is how artificial environments[7] penetrate the psyche and affect human relations. 

The author’s hardcore fans already know the key sites that haunt his work. But all urban walkers can use his writing and landscapes way to see Greater London[8], and the sprawling commuter towns around it, in a new light.


Best known for its film studio, Shepperton[9] morphed from a hamlet in the old county of Middlesex to become part of what Ballard called “the vast conformist suburbs dominated by television.”  Walk down Old Charlton Road – Ballard lived at No 36 – around dusk and the aquarium-like glow of TV screens illuminates the front rooms of the art deco houses.  

Ballard saw Shepperton as a suburb of Heathrow as much as London – an interzone of transit, consumption and despair. It’s interesting to contrast how John Betjeman fondly satirised the suburbs in poems like Middlesex (“Gaily into Ruislip Gardens/Runs the red electric train”) and the 1973 film Metro-land.

Ballard’s last novel, 2006’s Kingdom Come, which considers the connections between consumerism and fascism[10], opens with the words: “The suburbs dream of violence”. It’s an arresting claim and shows us he was still thinking about the shadowy aspects of suburban life at the end of his career. 

Shepperton station, served by South Western Railway, is 53 mins from Waterloo; it’s a two-minute walk to Old Charlton Road

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 11: A general view of Terminals 1 & 2 at Heathrow Airport on October 11, 2016 in London, England. The UK government has said it will announce a decision on airport expansion soon. Proposals include either a third runway at Heathrow, an extension of a runway at the airport or a new runway at Gatwick Airport. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images) Terminals 1 and 2 at Heathrow Airport (Photo: Jack Taylor/Getty)

Heathrow Airport 

Ballard loved modern architecture. One of his favourite buildings was the Hilton hotel[11] at Heathrow – an all steel-and-glass beauty built in 1991 by Michael Manser[12]. It’s still there, pretty much unchanged – rooms start at £107 per night if you fancy a Ballardian stopover.

“Sitting in its atrium,” he said, “one becomes, briefly, a more advanced kind of human being.” He had little time for the capital city itself, which he saw as leaning into the 19th century and earlier to prop up its delusions. Crash opens with a car crash at the airport[13]. Aeroplanes and cars, and the violence of their power and technology, are shown to exert a god-like influence on our most intimate relations. 

The Hilton is 15 mins walk from Terminal 4; arrive via London Underground, taking the Picadilly line to Terminals 1-4.

Hyde Park, The Barbican, Canary Wharf, Southwark, Poplar

In his 1975 novel High-Rise, Ballard writes, “A new social type was being created by the apartment building, a cool, unemotional personality impervious to the psychological pressures of high-rise life, with minimal needs for privacy, who thrived like an advanced species of machine in the neutral atmosphere.”  

Like other Londoners of his generation, the author had witnessed many social experiments with vertical living such as Poplar’s Balfron Tower, the Brutalist Barbican towers, and cities-in-the-sky social housing developments such as Elephant and Castle’s Heygate Estate[14], and North Peckham Estate (both now demolished).

These informed his shocking vision of where high-altitude living might eventually lead. The lofty tower in the novel contains a stratified social order, prone to psychosis and ultra-violence.

On a recent edition of Radio 4’s “Great Lives”,[15] Ballard’s daughter Bea points out that she has acquaintances whose Hyde Park residential blocks are not dissimilar to those imagined in the novel. The 75-floor Landmark Pinnacle[16] at Canary Wharf, the UK’s tallest residential tower, has a cinema, gym, Pilates area, “social lounge” and “tropical retreat in the sky”.

Poplar is on the Docklands Light Railway (it’s a 20min walk to Balfron Tower); Barbican station is on the Tube (the towers are a 3min walk); Landmark Pinnacle is a 12min walk from Canary Wharf stations on the Jubilee Line and Elizabeth line

Heygate Estate, due to be demolished as part of the regeneration project in Elephant and Castle, South London, UK. (Photo by BuildPix/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images) The Heygate Estate was demolished as part of the regeneration project in Elephant and Castle (Photo: BuildPix/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty)

Chelsea, Chigwell and other gated estates

Two later Ballard novels – Cocaine Nights (1996) and Super-Cannes (2000) – delve into the dystopian possibilities of gated living. In the former, acts of violence are choreographed to stir people from the death-like slumber of living inside an exclusive holiday-cum-retirement[17] resort. In the latter, a shadowy underworld operates within an elite closed community. Ballard chose foreign settings, but the gated model has gradually gained territory in the UK, especially in London where the super-rich prefer not to have to mingle with the lower orders. 

Upmarket estate agents push “gated community” homes[18] in places like Chelsea, were former mews and barracks are closed off to pedestrians. Chigwell Village[19] is a “private gated oasis” on the Essex/London border, while Keston Park’s 1920s and modern homes sit between Bromley and Orpington in south-east London. The Bromptons[20] at Rose Square, SW3, is like a private Gothic castle for the well-off. Like those beautiful Bloomsbury squares for residents only[21] the idea is: Look, but don’t touch.

Rose Square is eight minutes from South Kensington tube station. Chigwell tube station is on the Central line; the “Village” is a short walk away. Keston Park is 15 mins walk from Bromley South

Bentall Centre, Kingston upon Thames 

Kingdom Come is set in Brooklands, a fictitious Thames Valley motorway town dominated by a domed shopping mall. Ballard was no shopper, telling one interviewer, “Consumerism is so weird. It’s a sort of conspiracy we collude in.” The story contemplates the awful prospect that the only product that meets the needs consumerism generates is fascism.

He described the Bentall Centre[22], close to his Shepperton home, as a “cretinous” place – but visited it to study how individuals and groups of people moved through the artificially lit, air-conditioned space as if through a hazy dream. Of course, there’s a lot more to Kingston upon Thames than a mall – lovely parks, river walks, boat trips, royal palaces – but Ballard was never really interested in leisure as pleasure or heritage voyeurism.

Kingston railway station is 35 mins from Waterloo; the Bentall Centre is 2 mins walk

London UK, March 22 2021, Modern Architecture Concrete Arch At The Entrance Of The Bentall Centre In Kingston The Bentall Centre In Kingston upon Thames (Photo: martinrlee/Getty/iStock Editorial)

Queen Mary Reservoir, Thames Barrier and Primrose Hill 

Ballard’s second novel, Drowned World (1962), imagines a global climate radically altered by solar radiation, with many land masses submerged under the sea and the North Pole and South Pole the only habitable regions. He recalled the intensity of the rainy season of Shanghai[23] during his childhood. Was he also inspired by the vast Queen Mary Reservoir, close to his Shepperton home? The facticity of melting glaciers and rising sea levels has given Ballard’s apocalyptic fiction greater currency than ever.  

In 1953, the great North Sea floods caused the inundation of Canvey Island and Canning Town – disasters that led, ultimately, to  the construction of the Thames Barrier. Primrose Hill is the ideal spot for gauging how high tides may rise on the fatal last day. 

Pontoon Dock station, on the Docklands Light Railway, is a few minutes’ walk from the Thames Barrier

The Westway and roundabout; the M3 

Referring to the protagonist of the landmark 1956 play Look Back in Anger, Ballard observed, “The laying down of the M1 was much more important than anything Jimmy Porter’s father-in-law thought about this or that. The motorway system had a much bigger influence on freedom and possibility.”  

He was gripped by roads and communications and the ever-increasing volumes of vehicles, and people, on the move. The protagonist of 1974’s Concrete Island finds himself stranded on derelict land formed by intersecting motorways. Crash was written as the M3 motorway was being built at the end of Ballard’s street in Shepperton. Much of his work is about stasis and motion. The Westway dual carriageway, with its elevated roundabout, appears in Crash.

End your literary peregrination on a median strip, somewhere, anywhere. 

Westway Roundabout is a short walk from Ladbroke Grove Tube station, on the Circle line and Hammersmith & City line


  1. ^ Collins English Dictionary (www.collinsdictionary.com)
  2. ^ environmental (inews.co.uk)
  3. ^ Crash (www.amazon.co.uk)
  4. ^ Empire of the Sun (www.amazon.co.uk)
  5. ^ Steven Spielberg. (inews.co.uk)
  6. ^ architecture (inews.co.uk)
  7. ^ artificial environments (wp.inews.co.uk)
  8. ^ Greater London (inews.co.uk)
  9. ^ Shepperton (inews.co.uk)
  10. ^ fascism (inews.co.uk)
  11. ^ Hilton hotel (eur02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com)
  12. ^ Michael Manser (eur02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com)
  13. ^ airport (inews.co.uk)
  14. ^ Heygate Estate (inews.co.uk)
  15. ^ recent edition of Radio 4’s “Great Lives”, (eur02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com)
  16. ^ Landmark Pinnacle (eur02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com)
  17. ^ retirement (inews.co.uk)
  18. ^ gated community” homes (eur02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com)
  19. ^ Chigwell Village (eur02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com)
  20. ^ The Bromptons (eur02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com)
  21. ^ Bloomsbury squares for residents only (eur02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com)
  22. ^ Bentall Centre (eur02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com)
  23. ^ Shanghai (inews.co.uk)

Watchdog investigating Leicestershire Police over fatal M1 crash after call made about man’s welfare

Leicestershire Police is being investigated over its handling of a call made to the force about a man's welfare shortly before he was involved in a fatal crash on the M1. The man, 39, died when he was hit by a lorry on the motorway on the morning of Wednesday, August 23, last year.

Police said at the time that the man[1], who the force described as a pedestrian, had been pronounced dead at the scene. LeicestershireLive understands that shortly before the fatal incident, the man had been involved in a collision in his own car and was awaiting recovery on the hard shoulder between Lutterworth[2] and Leicester.

Kaisor Ahmed, the brother of the man who died, told LeicestershireLive[3] he had contacted Leicestershire Police before the second, fatal crash, raising concerns for his brother's welfare. Mr Ahmed said he told the police his brother, who we are not naming at Mr Ahmed's request, was "vulnerable", and that officers needed to go to the scene because he feared what might happen.

That did not happen, however, Mr Ahmed claimed, and almost two hours after the initial incident, his brother was fatally hit by a lorry.

Mr Ahmed, 42, said he also spoke to National Highways officers - who were at the scene following the initial crash - via a phone call between him and his brother. Mr Ahmed said he told his brother to hand the phone to the National Highways officers, which he did, and that when he spoke to the officers he asked them to stay with his brother. He claimed that also did not happen.

An inquest into the 39-year-old man's death has been opened and suspended while an investigation into the incident by the police, and a separate investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), are ongoing. Leicestershire Police referred itself to the IOPC, which is common practice when a force has had contact with a party before they are involved in a serious incident.

A Leicestershire Police[5] spokesperson said: “Following a review of the incident and prior contact made to the police, it was deemed that the incident met the criteria of a Death or Serious Injury referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). Therefore a mandatory referral was made to them.

“On receiving this referral, the IOPC have commenced an independent investigation, which we are supporting alongside inquiries we continue to carry out on behalf of HM Coroner.”

A National Highways spokesperson said: “Any death on our roads is one too many and our thoughts are with the family and friends of the gentleman involved in this incident. The incident remains an ongoing police investigation so it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

A spokesperson for the IOPC said: “We are independently investigating the involvement of Leicestershire Police before a man was struck by a lorry and died near Junction 20 of the M1 on the morning of 23 August, 2023.

“Our investigation began following a mandatory referral from Leicestershire Police and as part of that we are looking at the handling of a call which was made to police prior to the collision, which concerned the welfare of the man who died.

“When our inquiries are completed we will share our investigation report with the coroner, Leicestershire Police and other interested parties. We will consider publication of our findings at the conclusion of any associated proceedings, including coronial.”


  1. ^ at the time that the man (www.leicestermercury.co.uk)
  2. ^ Lutterworth (www.leicestermercury.co.uk)
  3. ^ LeicestershireLive (www.leicestermercury.co.uk)
  4. ^ Family desperate to get daughter treatment after NHS delays (www.leicestermercury.co.uk)
  5. ^ Leicestershire Police (www.leicestermercury.co.uk)

M1 works to impact road near St Albans and Hemel Hempstead

Upgrade work will affect the motorway on various dates from today (Friday, January 12) until Saturday, February 3.

The road's northbound carriageway has already been shut for two nights this week, between junctions 9 and 11a.

The same stretch will continue to be closed between 10pm and 5am tonight (Friday, January 12) and tomorrow night (Saturday, January 13).

For four nights from Tuesday (January 16), the northbound carriageway will be closed between junctions 11a and 14, while the same stretch will be closed southbound for four nights from Saturday, January 20.

From Wednesday, January 24, the southbound carriageway will be closed for four nights between junctions 11a and 9.

Lastly, the northbound carriageway will be shut for five nights from Monday, January 29, between junctions 11a and 14.

All disruption will take place between 10pm and 5am, though drivers are advised that "this can change slightly depending on the volume of traffic".


A spokesperson for National Highways said: "Safety is our top priority.

"Upgrading these barriers will improve journeys and significantly reduce the risk of vehicles crossing over from one carriageway to another, improving safety and reducing the duration of incident-related congestion.

"As well as  the barrier upgrade, CCTV along the motorway will be upgraded and improved signage for each of the section’s 30 emergency areas will be installed."

Heavy fog: Flight operations affected, motorways closed

Lahore: The plains of Pakistan including Sindh, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are covered in heavy fog that led to the cancelation of 18 more flights, while the motorways have been closed for traffic at any places.

Due to heavy fog, 11 domestic and foreign flights arriving at various airports were made to land in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. During the first 10 days of the new year, 330 flights have been canceled.

On the other hand, the flow of traffic has also been stopped on the motorways at different places due to the heavy fog affecting the borders.

According to the Motorways Police, Motorways-M1 has been closed from Burhan Interchange to Swabi due to reduced visibility caused by heavy fog.

Motorways-M3 from Faizpur to Darkhana and Jaranwala while Motorways-M4 from Multan to Faisalabad, Faisalabad to Abdul Hakeem and Shorekot have been closed for traffic.

According to the spokesperson, Motorway-M5 has also been closed for traffic from Multan to Rohri due to heavy fog.

It is pertinent to note that in view of the severe cold and the spread of pneumonia among children in Punjab, pre-nursery to grade-one children in government and private schools have been called off from school till January 19, while the students, teachers and employees of other classes have been directed to wear face masks and wear warm clothes.

According to the notification, the sick child will not come to school until he is fully healthy, while wearing any warm clothes apart from the uniform will be allowed.

Assembly and all outdoor activities will not take place in schools across Punjab till January 31, while no examinations of any kind will be conducted till January 19.

Second man arrested over suspected hit and run death

A second driver has been arrested after a suspected hit and run on the M1 motorway that forced it to close for about six hours.

The man's body was found close to the hard shoulder of the northbound carriageway between junctions four and five, for Watford and Radlett, on Monday, 4 December, at about 14:30 GMT.

Hertfordshire Police said a 24-year-old man from Hemel Hempstead has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

It follows an arrest in December of a man, 28, from Leicester, on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, failing to stop and failing to report a road traffic collision.

Heavy fog in Punjab, Sindh, KP

Lahore: Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa continued to experience heavy fog today (Monday), while another 35 flights were canceled and several affected on Sunday.

According to the details, Motorway-M1 from Peshawar to Islamabad and Motorway-M2 from Thokar Niaz Baig to Hiran Minar have been closed for traffic due to fog.

Motorway-M3 from Faizpur to Darkhana, M5 from Sher Shah to Zahir Peer while Swat Expressway is closed from Colonel Sher Khan to Katling Interchange.

On the other hand, it rained in different areas of Quetta last night, western system with Siberian winds is likely to affect Balochistan today.

According to Provincial Disaster Management Authoriy (PDMA), there is a possibility of rain in Qila Abdullah, Pishin, Qila Saifullah, Ziarat, Nushki and Muslim Bagh today, while there may be snowfall again in North Upper Balochistan.

The Meteorological Department stated that light rain is also likely in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Potohar region, Upper Punjab and Kashmir today.

During the last 24 hours, the lowest temperature in the country was recorded at -10 degrees Celsius in Skardu.

While, -05 degrees Celsius was recorded in Gilgit, Kalam and Gopas, and -04 degrees Celsius in Astor, -03 in Rawalkot and Chitral.

Fog reigns most district of KP, people facing hardship

PESHAWAR, Jan 07 (APP): The heavy fog reigns over most districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including Peshawar, and makes visibility. Due to fog in Peshawar, citizens are advised to use fog lights. The M1 Motorway from Peshawar to Rishkai and Burhan Interchange is closed due to heavy fog, Motorway officials said here Sunday. The Swat Express Motorway has been temporarily closed due to fog, Motorway officials said. Weather in Peshawar has become colder due to fog, an official of the Meteorological Department said when contacted on the phone. The minimum temperature of Peshawar city is 4 degrees while the maximum temperature is 11 degrees Celsius, he said, adding, that 80 percent humidity in the city of Peshawar is recorded. The temperature in Kalam is minus 4, the temperature in Dir is minus 3, and the temperature is minus 2 in Chitral. Looking after the present cold situation and heavy fog, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has increased the holidays of public and private primary schools. Now the primary schools will be closed for another week, a notification issued by the Education Department said here. The Middle, high, and higher secondary schools will open from Monday with a different time change. The working hours of middle, high, and higher secondary schools will be extended by 1 hour. Attendance in schools that have been opened will be 1 hour late while leave will also be 1 hour late. In view of the increase in the severity of winter, it has been decided by the Education Department, the notification said. The opening times of the schools are 9.30 am while the closing time is 3.30 p.m.