Trunk road

A trunk road, trunk highway, or strategic road is a major road, usually connecting two or more cities, ports, airports and other places, which is the recommended route for long-distance and freight traffic. Many trunk roads have segregated lanes in a dual carriageway, or are of motorway standard.[1]

A63(T) 1
A63(T) trunk road connecting Hull to the M62 motorway

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, trunk roads were first defined for Great Britain in the Trunk Roads Act 1936. Thirty major roads were classed as trunk roads and the minister of transport took direct control of them and the bridges across them. The Trunk Roads Act came into force in England and Wales on 1 April 1937, and in Scotland on 16 May 1937. This development did not extend to Northern Ireland, which has always had a separate system of highway and road traffic law.

At that time, 4,500 miles (7,200 km) of British roads were classified as trunk roads. Additional roads have been "trunked", notably in the Trunk Roads Act 1946. Others, like virtually all British motorways, have entered the system as a result of new construction. As of 2004, Great Britain had 7,845 miles (12,625 km) of trunk roads, of which 2,161 miles (3,478 km) were motorways.[2]

Since 1994, trunk roads in England have been managed by Highways England (formerly the Highways Agency), while Scotland has had responsibility for its own trunk roads since 1998; these are currently managed by Transport Scotland, created in 2006. The Welsh government has had responsibility for trunk roads in Wales since its establishment in 1998.

England has 4,814 miles (7,747 km), Scotland has 1,982 miles (3,190 km) and Wales has 1,048 miles (1,687 km) of trunk roads, inclusive of motorways. Highways England publishes a full network map of trunk roads and motorways in England.

Most interurban trunk roads are "primary routes", the category of roads recommended for long distance and freight transport. Not all primary routes are trunk roads, the difference being that maintenance of trunk roads is paid for by national government bodies rather than the local councils in whose area they lie. Primary routes are identified by their direction signs, which feature white text on a green background with route numbers in yellow. Trunk roads, like other "A" roads, can be either single- or dual-carriageway.

Historically, trunk roads were listed on maps with a "T" in brackets after their number, to distinguish them from non-trunk parts of the same road, however this suffix is no longer included on current Ordnance Survey maps, which simply distinguish between primary and non-primary "A" roads. A trunk road which has been upgraded to motorway standards may retain its original "A" number, but with an "M" in brackets to denote that motorway regulations apply on it. Long distance examples of this are the A1(M) in England, and the A74(M) in Scotland.[1]

De-trunking: United Kingdom

It is possible for roads to be "de-trunked" – for example, when superseded by a motorway following a similar route – in which case they normally become ordinary "A" roads. When a road is de-trunked signposts are often replaced, and sometimes route numbers are changed, making the original itinerary of the road harder to follow.

In England, the government has de-trunked much of the trunk road network since the late 1990s, transferring responsibility to local councils to allow Highways England to concentrate on a selection of core trunk routes, mostly dual carriageways and motorways.


In Ireland, major roads were previously classified under an old system as "trunk roads", and had route numbers prefixed by a "T". Connecting roads were classified as 'link roads", and had route numbers prefixed by an "L". Many of these roads had their origins in historic routes, including turnpike roads.

Although a number of old road signs using these route designations may still be encountered, Ireland has adopted a newer classification scheme of national primary and national secondary routes ("N" roads), regional roads ("R" roads), and local roads ("L"-prefixed roads). Local road numbers were previously not signposted, although they are now indicated on signs in many areas of the country.

The current "L"-prefixed local roads are unrelated to the previous "L"-prefixed link road classification.

De-trunking: Ireland

Some former trunk roads, or sections of former trunk roads, became non-trunk regional roads under the new road numbering system introduced in the 1970s and 1980s. More recently, sections of former national primary routes which have been bypassed by motorways or other road improvement schemes have been downgraded to regional road status.

United States

Though the term "trunk road" is not commonly used in American English, the U.S. Highway and Interstate Highway systems can be considered American trunk highways. However, individual states are responsible for actual highway construction and maintenance, even though the federal government helps fund these activities as long as the states enact certain laws and enforce them (such laws have included the raising of the minimum drinking age and the lowering of speed limits). Each state maintains all of its roads and tries to integrate them into a system appropriate for that state. The states of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin designate their highways as "state trunklines" or "(state) trunk highways". In many states, highways beyond those that are part of the U.S. Highway and Interstate Highway systems may also serve as trunk highways; these are often numbered and posted as state highways or state routes. Not all state highways and state routes, however, serve this purpose or are constructed to these standards; many in rural areas are simple two-lane roads.


Trunk highways in China consist of China National Highways and Expressways of China.


Trunk highways in India consist of National Highway, Expressways in India, and State highways in India. The most famous is the Grand Trunk Road.


Swedish national trunk roads
The national trunk road network in southern Sweden (in northern Sweden, only the European routes are trunk roads)

The most important roads in Sweden are labelled "national trunk road". In 1982, the parliament decided upon which roads were to become national trunk roads. They are considered recommended main roads for long-distance traffic. They were also supposed to be used for movement and transport of heavy military vehicles, ordnance and logistics and during wartime were to be guarded and defended at all odds.

National trunk roads are planned nationally, as opposed to other roads, which are planned locally. They also have a special, slightly larger budget. However, they are not signed in any special way. Therefore, there is no difference in signage, numbering, road standard or map marking from other national roads. Some national roads are only considered trunk for part of their length. National Road 73 and National Road 75 are both built to motorway standard and have high traffic but are not considered trunk. European routes are always trunk in Sweden, and are more visible with special numbering.

List of Swedish trunk roads

  • E4, all the way Helsingborg–Stockholm–Gävle–Sundsvall–Haparanda
  • E6, all the way Trelleborg–Göteborg–Svinesund
  • E10, all the way Töre–Riksgränsen
  • E12, all the way from Holmsund to the Norwegian border
  • E14, all the way Sundsvall–Storlien
  • E16, all the way from Gävle to the Norwegian border
  • E18, all the way Norwegian border-Karlstad-Örebro-Stockholm-Kapellskär
  • E20, all the way Malmö–Göteborg–Örebro–Stockholm
  • E22, all the way Malmö–Karlskrona–Norrköping
  • E45, all the way Göteborg–Trollhättan–Grums–Mora–Östersund–Storuman–Karesuando
  • E65, all the way Malmö–Ystad
  • Riksväg 25, all the way Halmstad–Växjö–Kalmar
  • Riksväg 26, all the way Halmstad–Jönköping–Kristinehamn–Mora[3]
  • Riksväg 40, all the way Göteborg–Jönköping–Västervik
  • Riksväg 50, only Ödeshög–Falun[4]
  • Riksväg 56, all the way Norrköping–Katrineholm–Kungsör–Västerås–Sala–Gävle
  • Riksväg 70, all the way Enköping–Mora

See also


  1. ^ a b "Trunk Roads". Sabre. Archived from the original on 23 July 2015. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
  2. ^ "Department for Transport - GOV.UK". Archived from the original on 16 February 2006.
  3. ^ "Riksintressen för trafikslagens anläggningar" (PDF) (in Swedish). Swedish Transport Administration. 17 November 2010. p. 31. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 July 2013.
  4. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 February 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2012.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
A19 road

The A19 is a major road in England running approximately parallel to and east of the A1 road. Although the two roads meet at the northern end of the A19, the two roads originally met at the southern end of the A19 in Doncaster, but the old route of the A1 was changed to the A638. From Sunderland northwards, the route was formerly the A108. In the past the route was known as the East of Snaith-York-Thirsk-Stockton-on-Tees-Sunderland Trunk Road. Most traffic joins the A19, heading for Teesside, from the A168 at Dishforth Interchange.

A4042 road

The A4042 is a trunk road that runs from Abergavenny to Newport in south Wales.

Starting at the junction of the A40 and A465 south of Abergavenny, the A4042 travels south towards Little Mill north of Pontypool. This section is a single carriageway and is winding and undulating. From Little Mill onwards the road is dual carriageway, bypassing Pontypool and Cwmbran before crossing the city boundary into Newport. The road has a junction (25A) with the M4 motorway and south from there loses its primary status and becomes an urban road. The first section of which, Heidenheim Drive (named after one of Newport's twin towns), is an elevated roadway through the Crindau district. The road then becomes the Kingsway that passes through Newport city centre, and continues on as Usk Way until its junction with the A48 Southern Distributor Road to the south of Newport.

A4076 road

The A4076 is an A road in Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK linking Haverfordwest with Milford Haven.

The road begins at a roundabout junction with the A40 near Haverfordwest railway station. It ends in Milford Haven.

Settlements served by the road from north to south are:

Haverfordwest (junction with A40)

Merlin's Bridge (junction with A487)

Pope Hill (hamlet)

Johnston (junction with A477)

Steynton (junction with A477 again)

Milford Haven (junction with B4325)

A40 road

The A40 is a major trunk road connecting London to Goodwick (Fishguard), Wales, and officially called The London to Fishguard Trunk Road (A40) in all legal documents and Acts. It is approximately 260 miles (420 km) long.

It is one of the few "old" trunk routes not to have been superseded by a direct motorway link. The southern section from Denham, Buckinghamshire to Oxford is now better served by the M40. Part of the A40 forms a section of the unsigned Euroroute E30, which the former Welsh Assembly Government referred to as "one of the lowest standard sections of the Trans European Road Network in the United Kingdom"

A449 road

The A449 is a major road in the United Kingdom. It runs north from junction 24 of the M4 motorway at Newport in South Wales to Stafford in Staffordshire.

The southern section of the road, between Ross on Wye and Newport forms part of the trunk route from the English Midlands to South Wales, avoiding the Severn Bridge

A44 road

The A44 is a major road in the United Kingdom that runs from Oxford in southern England to Aberystwyth in west Wales.

A458 road

The A458 is a route on the UK highway network that runs from Mallwyd, near Machynlleth, in Wales, to Halesowen, near Stourbridge, in England. On the way it passes through Welshpool, Shrewsbury, Much Wenlock, Bridgnorth and Stourbridge.

A465 road

The A465, the Neath to Abergavenny Trunk Road, is in Wales. The section westwards from Abergavenny is more commonly known as the Heads of the Valleys Road because it joins together the northern heads of the South Wales Valleys. Approximately following the southern boundary of the Brecon Beacons National Park, the Ordnance Survey Pathfinder guide describes it as the unofficial border between rural and industrial South Wales. The A465 provides an alternative route between England and the counties in South West Wales and to the ferries to Ireland.

A470 road

The A470, also referred to as the Cardiff to Glan Conwy Trunk Road, is a 186 miles (299 km) long road in Wales that connects Cardiff on the south coast to Llandudno on the north coast. It has undergone considerable road improvement in the last two decades. While previously one had to navigate the narrow roads of Llanidloes and Dolgellau, both these market towns are now bypassed due to extensive road modernisation. The 26 miles (42 km) from Cardiff Bay to Merthyr Tydfil are mainly direct and good quality dual carriageway, but most of the route from north of Merthyr to Llandudno is single carriageway which has seen considerable improvement in the last 20–30 years.

The road travels through two of Wales's national parks; the Brecon Beacons, and Snowdonia National Park starting just south of Dinas Mawddwy.

A48(M) motorway

The A48(M) motorway in Wales links Cardiff with Newport. It is a 2 miles (3.2 km) long, M4 spur. At St Mellons, it runs continuously into the dual-carriageway A48, which also features (albeit narrow) hard shoulders. The A48(M) has no junctions and opened in 1977. The M4 was extended from junction 29 in 1980.

A483 road

The A483, also known as the Swansea to Chester Trunk Road, is a major road in the United Kingdom. It runs from Swansea in Wales to Chester in England via Llandovery, Llandrindod Wells, Oswestry and Wrexham, a distance of around 153 miles (246 km).

A487 road

The A487, officially also known as the Fishguard to Bangor Trunk Road, is a trunk road in Wales, running up the western side of the country from Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire in the south to Bangor, Gwynedd in the north.

A489 road

The A489, officially known as the Newtown to Machynlleth Trunk Road in Wales, is a trunk road in the United Kingdom running from Craven Arms, Shropshire to Machynlleth, Powys and crossing the Wales-England border.

The road starts about one mile north of Craven Arms. From here it travels through Lydham, Churchstoke, Newtown, Caersws, Cemmaes Road and Machynlleth.

Between Caersws and Cemmaes Road, the road appears to 'disappear', where it is travelling with the A470, which takes priority. The same happens in Lydham, albeit for a much shorter distance, where the A488 takes priority.

A48 road

The A48 is a major trunk road in Great Britain. It runs from the A40 at Highnam, 3 miles (4.8 km) west of Gloucester, to the A40 at Carmarthen. Before the Severn Bridge opened on 8 September 1966, it was the principal route between South Wales and South West England. For most of its journey through South Wales, it runs almost parallel to the M4 motorway. During times of high winds at the Severn Bridge, the A48 is used as part of the diversion route and is still marked as a Holiday Route.

From Gloucester, the A48 runs through the villages of Minsterworth, Westbury-on-Severn, connects to a link road to Cinderford in the Forest of Dean then through Newnham, Blakeney and since 1995, bypassing Lydney on the west bank of the River Severn. It crosses the England–Wales border at Chepstow and continues westwards close to the South Wales coast passing Newport, Cardiff, Cowbridge, Bridgend, Pyle, Port Talbot, Neath and Swansea, before terminating at the junction with the A40 near the centre of Carmarthen.

There is a motorway section (the A48(M)) which is a spur from the M4 running from junction 29 on the west side of Newport. The A48(M) has no junction options at either end; it leads into limited-access junctions. Near the east of Cardiff, at St Mellons, it ends by flowing onto the A48 (Eastern Avenue) and through Cardiff. It is 2 miles (3.2 km) long and is a 2-lane motorway throughout its length. At St Mellons it runs continuously into a further 6 miles (9.7 km) of the dual-carriageway A48, which also features (albeit narrow) hard shoulders. The original A48 continues to link Newport and Cardiff.

A5 road (Great Britain)

The A5 London Holyhead Trunk Road is a major road in England and Wales. It runs for about 275 miles (443 km) (including sections concurrent with other designations) from London to the Irish Sea at the ferry port of Holyhead which handles more than 2 million passengers each year. In many parts the route follows that of the Roman Iter II route which later took the Anglo-Saxon name Watling Street.

Grand Trunk Road

The Grand Trunk Road is one of Asia's oldest and longest major roads. For at least 2,500 years, it has linked the Indian subcontinent with Central Asia. It runs from Chittagong, Bangladesh west to Howrah, West Bengal in India, then across Northern India through Delhi, passing from Amritsar towards Lahore and Peshawar in Pakistan, finally terminating in Kabul, Afghanistan.Chandragupta Maurya built his highway along this ancient route called Uttarapatha in the 3rd century BC, extending it from the mouth of the Ganges to the north-western frontier of the Empire. Further improvements to this road were made under Ashoka. It was rebuilt many times under Sher Shah Suri, the Mughals and the British along a partly similar route. The old route was re-aligned by Suri to Sonargaon and Rohtas. The road was considerably rebuilt in the British period between 1833 and 1860.The road coincides with current N1 (Chittagong to Dhaka), N4 & N405 (Dhaka to Sirajganj), N507 (Sirajganj to Natore) and N6 (Natore to Rajshai towards Purnea in India) in Bangladesh; NH 12 (Rajshahi to Purnea), NH 27 (Purnea to Patna), NH 19 (Patna to Agra), NH 44 (Agra to Jalandhar via New Delhi, Panipat, Ambala and Ludhiana) and NH 3 (Jalandhar to Attari, Amritsar towards Lahore in Pakistan) in India; N-5 (Lahore, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Jhelum, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Khyber Pass towards Jalalabad in Afghanistan) in Pakistan and AH1 (Torkham-Jalalabad to Kabul) in Afghanistan.

M48 motorway

The M48 is a 12-mile (19 km) long motorway in Great Britain, which connects Gloucestershire, England, and Monmouthshire, Wales, via the Severn Bridge. This road used to be the M4, and as a result is anomalously numbered as it lies to the north of the current M4 and to the west of the M5, it is in the Motorway Zone 5. It is one of only three motorways in Wales.

National Highway 32 (India)

National Highway 32 (NH 32) is a National Highway in India. It starts from Chennai and terminates at Nagapattinam. It is also known as East Coast Road.

The highway is extended up to Tuticorin as per the notification on 5 December 2017.

National Highway 4 (India)

National Highway 4 or NH 4, It is of 230.7 km of length. This road running from the capital city of Port Blair to Diglipur connecting all major towns of Ferrargunj, Baratang, Kadamtala, Rangat, Billy Ground, Nimbudera, Mayabunder and Diglipur. This highway is known as Andaman Trunk Road (The Great Andaman Trunk Road)

ATR becomes lifeline for the people of Andaman group of islands, especially for those residing in North & Middle Andaman district. Because prior 1970’s to early 1990’s transportation of men and goods used to take several days by sea route now can be completed in a matter of 10–12 hours. NH-4 hence facilities easy movement of essential commodities, health care facilities, etc. round the year.

ATR passes through the buffer zone of the Jarwa Reserve between Jirkatang to Middle Strait where is laws have been placed to minimize traveller contact with the native tribe of Jarawa. Only vehicle convoys with armed escorts are allowed.

This highway is currently undergoing a major upgrade and construction of two major bridges under NHIDCL of ₹ 1511.22 crore.

Earlier this stretch of Highway was numbered as NH-223.

A stretch of national highway from Mumbai to Pune to Hubli to Bangalore to Chennai was earlier called NH 4 before renumbering of national highways in year 2010. The former NH 4 is now renumbered as NH 48.

Streets and roadways
Types of road
Road junctions
Road safety factors
Space and time allocation


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