The M56 is only the third most consistently congested motorway in the North West, according to a study.

The highway, which is notorious to Cheshire drivers for the several incidents of traffic chaos it incurs on a regular basis, was beaten by the M60 to come joint third with the M62 as the region’s worst motorways for being regularly gridlocked, in a poll by members of the Federation of the Small Businesses (FSB).

Sixty-nine per cent thought the M60 was the worst motorway in the region, and 12% put the M62 stretch between Manchester and Leeds in second place. Only 7% of votes were given to the M56 and the M602/M62 west of Manchester, followed by the M61 in Bolton and the M66 in Bury.

The survey also quizzed respondents on how to improve motorway congestion, and popular suggestions included ‘extra lanes and capacity’, followed by ‘better public transport’.

Fourteen per cent of people said that the roads would be improved by installing more smart motorways and 6% thought road tolling would help.

Related story: M56 smart motorway won't happen before 2020

Simon Edmondson, FSB Regional Chairman for Manchester & North Cheshire, said: “Without question, the M60 has the dubious honour of being the worst motorway in the region for congestion – even convincingly beating the M62 in to second place, and that’s saying something.

“It’s quite clear improvements to the M60 can’t come soon enough, but our members don’t seem convinced ‘smart’ motorways are the answer.

“When the major transport networks aren’t up to standard it affects the region’s economic productivity – and this is fundamentally what the Northern Powerhouse project is seeking to address. We need more capacity and we need it now.”