Semi-finals, motorways and World Cup coincidences

As fans cheer on the England squad’s bid for World Cup semi-final glory this evening, the country’s busiest roads will be much quieter than the normally would be midweek at 7pm. Highways England says a brief analysis of traffic on each of the England match days to date, comparing an hour before kick-off to two hours after, shows that during the games demand reduced by up to 33 per cent.

Furthermore, Highways England notes that the roads weren’t busier than normal immediately before, or after the games, suggesting people are often choosing not to travel or to travel at completely different times, rather than to change their journeys to earlier or later times in the same day.

And while the Highways England team don’t have their own Achilles the Cat or Paul the Octopus, they’ve noticed an uncanny coincidence that hopefully augurs the best possible result at the World Cup. Here goes: The M66 and M18 motorways are exactly 52 miles apart – the same as the number of years since England last won the World Cup. The M18 also opened the year after England’s 1966 win and has seven junctions, which happens to be the number of matches England will have played if we reach the World Cup Final.

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