A new online hub providing an overview of motorway service areas (MSAs) across England has been launched to help HGV drivers and other people making essential journeys during the lockdown.

The site, which is provided by Highways England, shows whether the MSAs are open and what facilities they are providing.

It gives a colour-coded, at-a-glance status update of 118 motorway services with information such as the provision of fuel, drinks, takeaway food, toilets and parking.

Network Information Services Ltd – a joint venture between technology companies Thales and WSP – worked with Highways England to set up the hub in just one week.

“It is vital that we keep the lorries moving,” said Robert McConnell, of Network Information Services, which is responsible for implementing and maintaining the changes. “If even a single lorry that’s carrying medical supplies or goods for the supermarket is delayed, or is caught out because one or more service stations are closed, there will be a real impact on people’s lives.”

Mark Garrity, strategy director at Thales, commented: “We’re pleased to be able to put our technology to use to support people relying on the UK road network to keep the country moving. In a constantly changing environment, it’s vital that people making essential journeys are kept up to date. We’re proud to be able to support the UK’s supply chain during this crucial time and are grateful to our partners and colleagues for their support in making this possible.”

Ian Patey, head of profession, ITS, at WSP, and a director of NIS, added: “This project is a great example of the NIS and Highways England teams working together to help the freight industry move vital supplies around the country and meet the growing demands brought about by COVID-19.

“Acting so quickly to make these changes at a time when they are dealing with lockdown restrictions and their own concerns about the health and wellbeing of their families, friends and themselves is a tremendous tribute to everyone involved from NIS and Highways England.”