UK petrol stations are ever-evolving. Whether it’s needing a quick bite to eat, a bed for the night, or an increasing range of fueling options our service stations are equipped with a huge range of facilities for motorists to use when travelling around the country.
Extensive fuel options
Service stations offer a diverse range of fuel options to cater for the many different vehicle types that are used across the UK. From traditional petrol and diesel to the modern electric charging points for electric vehicles, a chance to refuel your mode of transport, regardless of fuel type, is possible at nearly all service stations
The use of alternate fuels in the UK is growing in an attempt to battle global warming, with the likes of hydrogen, biofuels and compressed natural gas (CNG) becoming more widely accessible to the public. Although limited, the current infrastructure continues to expand with an increasing number of forecourts having access to HVO as well, so no need to worry about whether the next service on the motorway the fuel has you need.
Whilst we’d never encourage littering, you can also toss out the worry of paying for fuel when you have a fuel card. Fuel cards are accepted at around 90% of forecourts, including nearly all motorway and major ‘A’ road service stations. Our Keyfuels fuel card, for example, is accepted at over 3,000 multi-branded sites, many of which are conveniently located close to major trunk roads and motorways!
Convenient convenience stores
Not only do UK service stations hold a selection of different fuels to use, but you can also stock up on a variety of food and drinks for your journey. Shops such as WHSmith and SPAR are in nearly all service stations which offer travellers the chance to buy drinks, snacks, books, magazines, as well as electricals for those who have left their phone chargers back at home.
M&S and Waitrose which can also be spotted at service stations, selling high-quality groceries, ready-made meals, snacks and drinks allowing you to stock up for your travels or to pick up an oven pizza and enjoy once you have reached your destination! Having these options available at service stations allows motorists to make more out of their refuelling pitstop, by browsing through shelves and probably spending more than they intended!
Delectable dining options
In recent years, UK service stations have upped their game by offering various dining options. There are plenty of options to choose from when you find yourself driving down the motorway with a rumbling tummy. Some of the nation’s favourite food and beverage chains can be found at service stations with Greggs, McDonald’s, Costa Coffee and Starbucks being just a few of the options you can pick from to fill your belly.
Having these popular options available has changed refuelling to more than just a pitstop but to an exciting opportunity allowing you to grab your favourite drinks and snacks or make it into more of an experience by sitting down and indulging in a leisurely meal at restaurants such as Pizza Express and Nandos. Stopping off also gives you the opportunity to stretch your legs and even give the dog a runabout as some service stations also have areas with outside benches and grass. Children’s playgrounds, picnic benches and grass seating areas also make for a more relaxing recharge.
Clean and modern restrooms
Everybody needs a clean, tidy and modern restroom but with 1000s of people using the service station toilets a day, cleaning must be done regularly. Service stations now boast clean, well-maintained restrooms with modern amenities with many featuring a cleaning log where cleaners write down when they last cleaned the restrooms, giving users the opportunity to see how frequently the restroom is cleaned. Scented hand soap and lotion are also a nice added touch.
According to a Motorway service user survey carried out in 2022, 88% of motorists were satisfied with the toilets at service stations across the country leaving just 5% undecided and 6% dissatisfied. One point that can be carried out from the survey regarding the toilets is that 17% of disabled users are less than satisfied with their facilities meaning that this could be an area for motorway service companies to look at when planning future upgrades. Another point highlighted in the survey is the number of toilets available at service stations. Professional and HGV drivers gave lower ratings for the number of toilets available to use as factors such as this could affect their time management.
Since covid, everyone’s approach towards cleanliness and hygiene has become more severe and therefore the importance of a clean toilet is vital, especially at service stations where people from all over the country visit and spread bacteria. Alongside the modern restrooms, other facilities such as individual showers, baby/family changing rooms and prayer rooms must also be maintained to the highest levels.
Advanced car wash and valet services
Petrol stations across the UK also have integrated advanced car wash and valet services, giving the opportunity for motorists to maintain the cleanliness and appearance of their vehicles. A well-maintained vehicle reduces the chances of rust forming, which not only can damage certain parts but also can affect your investment in the car, meaning that when you go to sell it in the future, the price may be affected.
Using a valeting service is an eco-friendly approach to cleaning your vehicle as it uses less water than then a drive-through car wash. Valeting, which is done by hand uses minimal water and results in a vehicle just as clean as using an advanced or drive-through car wash.
The convenience of having a car wash integrated into a petrol station allows motorists to do check-ups on their vehicles as they also have access to air for their tyres and important vehicle liquids which can be purchased at the petrol station e.g. AdBlue. Liquids as such can be purchased using most of our fuel cards but a surcharge will be added.
Safety and security measures
With petrol stations being a hub for unattended vehicles, thieves may be lurking around waiting for their next victim, which is why several safety and security measures are implemented to ensure the safety of motorists. A well-lit forecourt gives a better view of your vehicle and its surroundings, allowing you to spot any unusual activity which can then be reported to a member of trained staff who can provide support and address any concerns.
CCTV cameras are also in operation around the premises to prevent people from committing acts of crime within the petrol station as well as being used to identify someone when a crime has been committed. Emergency assistance points are also onsite and available for people to use if they require assistance or spot anything suspicious but cannot find a member of staff to report it to. Dedicated parking spots are also featured in petrol stations for vulnerable customers to use so they can refuel their vehicles easier and safer.
Although with all these safety measures in place to keep visitors safe, HGV drivers that are staying over for the night in their vehicles believe that these measures aren’t enough. From a survey that we carried out, 70% of haulage and transport firms expressed concern about the facilities for drivers and their vehicles at service stations. There were several key issues raised, one of which outlined the lack of security at service stations which often results in fuel and load thefts. Reports show that there are 1400 too few overnight parking spaces for commercial vehicles, making it hard for HGV to find a suitable place to stop and rest. Although the Government announced that £32.5 million in match-funding would be used to improve and expand HGV parking areas and rest stops in the UK, more progress needs to be made to ensure that HGV drivers can access better roadside facilities.
To round it off
Refuelling at a service station has changed from more than just a quick visit to an experience where travellers will plan their journey to ensure that they stop off for a refuel and McDonald’s on the way to their destination. Following along from the increase in popularity of service stations, farm shop service stations such as Rheged and Gloucester services are also popping up along motorways and dual carriageways. These services feature farm shops selling fresh produce from local farmers as well as restaurants, clothes shops and even a cinema!
The convenience of having everything you need for a car journey available to you at service stations is why they will continue to grow in popularity, especially with the rise in electric vehicles that require time to recharge. Whilst motorists are waiting for their vehicles to charge, they can grab a bite to eat and a drink, do a food shop as well as make the most of the clean and modern restrooms. Once their car has finished charging, they can then give their vehicles a good clean by using the car wash services that are available as well as top up their vehicle liquids before hitting the road again.
Jen GreenJen has extensive experience across a range of regulated industries. Her research on the monthly market movements for oil and how they will impact prices at the pump has been featured in numerous publications, including the Transport Operator and Fuel Oil News.