MSA Statistics – 2018

In support of the petition to ask Parliament to force motorway service areas to employ overnight security, here are a few stats on the availability of MSA parking and the revenues they provide.

Across 127 sites checked in an online only search, we found the following large numbers:

Total MSA Parking Spaces:  6,361

Thats enough space to park every authorised vehicle for Tesco Stores, Sainsburys, Asda Stores, the BBC, ITV, McLaren Racing Ltd and Red Bull Racing.

Weekly Parking Fee Takings: £948,927.36

That makes motorway overnight parking a £49 million a year industry.

How I got the numbers:

Pricing was taken as an average of all the prices for all of the sites in each group. Current pricing information was taken this afternoon from each operators website. Westmorland Group and Stop24 prices were taken from the Motorway Buddy app or my own records of prices paid for parking.

With the exception of Westmorland Group, all prices are without food vouchers. Westmorland do not offer parking at Gloucester or Tebay without food vouchers,.

The number of spaces available at each site was taken from the Motorway Buddy app. Exceptions to this rule are:

: : Moto Frankley Services North and Southbound. This area was listed as not having any HGV parking on Motorway Buddy. From personal experience I know that at least 20 trucks can park on each side so have estimated this site as 20 spaces on each carriageway.

: : Moto Grantham Services. This area was listed as not having any HGV parking on Motorway Buddy. From personal experience know that HGV parking is available so have estimated this site at 15 spaces.

: : Roadchef Sedgemoor Services. This site is listed on Motorway Buddy as having only 16 spaces but this doesn’t include a rough ground expansion which will hold at least 15 vehicles nor the availability of parking alongside the divider which can also house 5 – 6 vehicles. Therefore I have added 20 spaces to this site.

: : Tebay Services North and Southbound. This site is not listed on the Motorway Buddy app. I have referenced Google Maps satellite view and counted available marked spaces.

: : Welcome Break Chorley Services. Motorway Buddy only lists one side of this site and gives it 60 spaces. There are two sides to this MSA with roughly equal truck parking space so I have doubled this number.

Counting sites:

In order to count the sites of each operator, where sites have two sides, e.g. Leicester Forest East Northbound and Southbound, I have counted each side as a separate site. Where an MSA operator also operates a truck stop, truck stop sites have been included in the numbers. This affects:

: : Moto Barton Park

: : Moto Lymm Truckstop (Poplar 2000)

: : J38 Truck Stop (Westmorland)

: : Carin Lodge Truck Stop (Westmorland)

Also included are two single site operators who either operate in a substantial truck park or operate in an area with poor provision.

What I have not done:

With the exception of Sedgemoor services as mentioned above, I have not inflated the numbers to account for trucks parking in coach bays or in unmarked bays. I have also not corrected the Welcome Break Newport Pagnell figure of 55 truck spaces when I know that it is inaccurate after counting the spaces myself a week ago.

The only operator I have not personally stopped at in a commercial vehicle is Stop24 so I have no knowledge as to the security of the site nor if a food voucher is included in the basic price.

I have not included EuroGarages in this report as I was unable to find firm numbers on the availability of truck parking at their sites. Many EuroGarages sites are forecourt operations only and do not offer overnight HGV parking.

Breakdown by Operator:

Moto Hospitality Limited.

By far the largest operator of motorway service with 53 sites including two locations from which HGVs are barred. These sites are Scotch Corner and Tiverton.

Total spaces: 2,289.

Average price: £22.65 per night.

Nightly income: £51,845.85

Cheapest Site: £11.50 Barton Park, A1.

Most Expensive Site: £34.00 Thurrock, M25.

Notes: Moto Thurrock, Moto Donington Park, Moto Cherwell Valley, Moto Ferrybridge all claim to have overnight security on site. I have stopped at each of these locations overnight and have never seen security guards patrolling. I have also been ‘half mooned’ or had a small crescent shaped cut put in my curtain at Moto Cherwell Valley.

Appraisal of Facilities:

Moto sites are a very mixed bag. The new sites are very new, well presented and have a focus on energy efficiency. The older sites are showing their age dramatically, and despite a programme of upgrades and refurbishment, trucker facilities are poor. Particularly bad are Stafford North and Toddington services which have communal shower facilities. Particularly good for facilities are the two flagship sites at Cherwell Valley and Wetherby which have spacious individual shower rooms, but even here, hanging space and seating in the shower/changing area is poorly provisioned and there is no curtain to prevent clothes from being soaked by shower spray.

Barton Park, one of two truck stops in the group is comprised of a small cafe, 1990s toilet area, a aging and tired forecourt and a well rutted, often sodden area of formerly hard standing. Several businesses share the access to the site meaning vehicles are in and out at strange times interrupting sleep.

 

Welcome Break.

Second largest of the operators in this report, Welcome Break have 32 sites, including several of the most well known locations in the UK. Welcome Break at Heartshead Moor was recently announced as a vehicle crime hotspot.

Despite having fewer sites, Welcome Break tops the charts for the most income per night over their fleet based on these calculations.

Total spaces: 2,258.

Average price: £25 per night.

Nightly income: £56,450.00

Cheapest Site: £18.00 Derby, A50.

Most Expensive Site: £31.00 South Mimms, M25.

Notes: Welcome Break Derby is two sites, either side of the A50 comprising forecourt facilities on both side and a hotel on one of the two locations. Between both sides of the road there is parking for less than ten trucks and no shower facilities are available to drivers.

Appraisal of Facilities:

Welcome Break sites are all well presented with a suite of blue chip brands making up the food offering. The flagship site at Oxford is well presented with a parkland feel and is the test bed for proper restaurant dining in the form of Pizza Express. Hopwood Park is built on a similar pattern.

Sanitation facilities are being overhauled throughout the estate and even the older sites are well presented and clean. Showers are well maintained and always have hot water, but the number of available showers on each site is lower than appears to be the average. It is worth noting that the shower facilities are located on the first floor at Hopwood Park and late arrival could mean that the elevators are turned off making access for drivers with reduced mobility difficult. Hopwood Park does have showers in the forecourt though, as does Oxford.

Newport Pagnell is a tale of two sites, with a large truck park and well equipped amenities building on the north side joined by a hotel and large forecourt. South side is by far the poorer relation with an older style building, smaller facilities and next to no truck parking. Motorway Buddy says ten spaces are available on south side, I feel this is optimistic.

 

RoadChef.

RoadChef is the boarder between the north and the south, owning and operating Watford Gap MSA. While cars and coaches are well provided for at many RoadChef sites, HGV parking provision on the sites tends to be on the smaller side when compared with total site footprint.

Total spaces: 1,107.

Average price: £25.73 per night.

Nightly income: £28,483.11

Cheapest Site: £21.00 Sutton Scotney, A34.

Most Expensive Site: £29.00 Strencham, M5.

Notes: Several sites dedicate several truck parking spaces to UK Truck Clean truck wash facilities.

I have suffered trailer break ins at both RoadChef Northampton and Watford Gap. No load theft occurred but the vehicle was accessed.

Appraisal of Facilities:

Faded opulence is the best way to describe RoadChef sites, particularly the ones I have visited on a regular basis at Strencham, Watford Gap (rarely overnight), Magor and Sedgemoor. Showers and toilets are perpetually cold, though eventually shower water runs warm. New showers have been installed at Strencham northbound.

After around 9pm only McDonalds and Costa Coffee are available at most sites.

 

Extra Services.

Seven sites makes Extra a minow in a sea of great whites. Operator of the flagship sites at Cobham on the M25 and Beconsfield on the M40, they centre around the bottom half of the A1. The concentration of sites near London push up the prices and the average, its the most expensive operator on average in this report.

Total spaces: 481.

Average price: £27.28 per night.

Nightly income: £13,121.68

Cheapest Site: £25.00, Blackburn.

Most Expensive Site: £30, Cobham M25 and Beconsfield M40.

Notes: Beconsfield Services is known to host car cruises on Friday nights making it unsuitable for a refreshing nights rest. Other nights very early arrival is advised to find a space.

Appraisal of Facilities:

Laid out in a food court style, Extra services offer great choice but poor value. Many sites have independent franchises for fast food outlets, for example Baldock services where McDonalds is operated not by the site owner, but by one of the major local franchisees of town center stores.

Sanitation facilities are serviceable enough but only two showers per site appears to be the norm.

No Extra site offers a food voucher with parking but in a plus for operators, they take SNAP universally.

 

Westmorland Group.

New kids on the block, Westmorland Group have entered the industry and shaken it to its core. Environmental responsibility is at the core of what the company does across its seven businesses, four of which are MSAs and two Truck Stops.

Total spaces: 221.

Average price: £17.83 per night.

Nightly income: £3993.92

Cheapest Site: £12.00 Carin Lodge, M74.

Most Expensive Site: £23.00, Gloucester Services.

Notes: Carin Lodge and J38 truck stop are both truck stop sites rather than MSAs. J38 also doubles up as the local village shop and filling station.

Appraisal of Facilities:

Allow me to declare an interest here, I have gone on record several times saying that Westmorland sites in general and Tebay in particular are destination locations for overnight parking. I have never once heard of a crime on these sites, though their distance from major towns and cities could be a major factor in this, something rivals can’t really do much about.

Showers are plentiful and always clean. Toilets the same. The food is first rate and the catering team knowledgeable. Food miles are important to Westmorland and most ingredients are sourced locally, with Tebay and J38 using meat and veg from the companies own farms. Prices are on the eyewatering side of high but are aided by the free food voucher, there is no option to buy without voucher at Westmorland sites. Once you have eaten you can then buy many of the ingredients yourself at the farm shop built into the site. Even the forecourt food is top drawer. Perhaps this is why Westmorland Group have claimed victory in the BBC food and farming awards.

 

Cornwall Services:

A single site operator with interesting food options and a small truck park.

Total spaces: 20.

Price: £15000 per night.

Nightly income: £300.00

 

Notes: Truck park is a fair walk from the main facilities but a seperate truckers toilet block is immediately adjacent, as is the forecourt which is also a co-op.

Appraisal of Facilities:

One visit several years ago isn’t much to go on but I remember their being a wide range of rather expensive, (but good quality) food to supplement the McDonalds. I was on site in the off season, during the run-up to Christmas and it was heaving with people. I don’t recall the quality of the showers or toilets from my one visit.

 

Stop24.

One site but its one of the most important. Formerly known as Folkestone services, and before that Port Early Arrivals services the site shares a fence with a customs pre-clearance facility so it does offer convenience for cross channel travel.

Total spaces: 180.

Price: £22.00 per night.

Nightly income: £3960.00

 

Appraisal of Facilities:

I haven’t visited this site since I passed my Class 1 licence so have no idea about the quality of the site but internet research shows complaints of litter, rats and little choice.