TRANSPORT SCOTLAND say journey times across the Forth are five minutes shorter thanks to the Queensferry Crossing.

They say new analysis reveals that the crossing has, on average, been quicker for drivers than the same route using the Forth Road Bridge (FRB).

Analysis shows that the crossing has, on average, reduced the journey time from M90 Junction 2 Admiralty, to the M90/M9 Junction by up to five minutes at peak times, compared to the same route using the FRB previously. They say the free-flow journey time remains as it was before, being a slightly longer route, but offering a higher speed limit.

Transport bosses say wind barriers have kept the crossing open 34 times when its predecessor would have had to close, while hard shoulders on the new bridge have also reduced delays resulting from accidents and breakdowns. Analysis of journeys over both bridges has shown that the ability to respond and restore normal journey times has improved significantly. The typical duration of an incident on the new crossing is around one hour from the start through to restoring normal traffic conditions. On the FRB the typical duration of an incident ranged from one hour up to five hours.

Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Connectivity and Infrastructure, said: "The primary benefit to road users is undoubtedly the increased resilience of the Queensferry Crossing.

"On over 30 occasions in the past two years when previously hauliers, businesses and the delivery chain would have been disrupted using the Forth Road Bridge, the Crossing has stayed open.

“When incidents do occur on the bridge, the availability of a hard-shoulder has often allowed ‘business as usual’ journey times to be restored much faster than previously seen.

"The use of the FRB as a dedicated public transport corridor, and the associated bus lane infrastructure, has reduced journey times for public transport users from the Fife park and ride sites by around 40 per cent between Ferrytoll and Newbridge at peak times compared to the car.

"Freeing up the FRB to encourage more cycling and walking is also paying dividends."

Transport Scotland added that wind speed threshold data suggested that the new structure had saved the economy and hauliers millions of pounds in fuel costs, diversions and missed appointments and that they expected snagging work to be completed by the end of the year.

The Press reported in July that Tory MSP Dean Lockhart was claiming Fifers were being "let down" by constant delays and restrictions on the bridge. His comments came after Transport Scotland had reported that lane restrictions were in place on the bridge for 121 days last year.