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Drivers told to 'take the train' during M25 closure

Two workers in high vis jackets and hard hats walk between traffic cones and a busy motorway of queuing traffic
National Highways project lead Jonathan Wade told motorists to "avoid the area entirely" ahead of the unprecedented closure this weekend

National Highways has advised drivers to "take the train" ahead of an unprecedented full weekend closure of a section of the M25.

A five-mile stretch between junctions 10 and 11 in Surrey will be closed from 21:00 GMT on Friday until 06:00 on Monday.

Jonathan Wade from National Highways told drivers to "avoid the area entirely, change their plans, go shopping on Thursday night rather than Saturday morning, or take the train."

It is the first time there has been a scheduled daytime shutdown of all lanes on the M25 since it opened in 1986.

The closure is to enable the demolition of a bridge and the installation of a new gantry - part of the junction 10 improvement scheme due to be completed in mid-2025.

Mr Wade told BBC Radio Surrey that the improvements would bring "long-term benefits", but he warned of "heavy congestion and delays" in the short term.

National Highways is advising those planning to travel to London and the surrounding areas to plan their journeys well in advance.

You can listen to a full explainer on the closure, including diversion routes, from BBC Radio Surrey here.

An aerial image of the M25 at junction 10 showing a huge roundabout and significant building work
The M25 at junctions 10 and 11 will be closed in both directions this weekend

Compounding the travel disruption are a number of engineering works facing South Western Railway this weekend affecting services running from London Waterloo to stations in Surrey, including Guildford, Epsom and Dorking.

Some services in Petersfield and Leatherhead terminate early while other lines are operating a replacement bus service.

Passengers are being advised to check routes before they travel.

Travellers affected could include people going to Gatwick and Heathrow Airports and the Channel ports.

The M25 normally carries between 4,000 and 6,000 vehicles in each direction every hour between 10:00 and 21:00 at weekends between Junctions 9 and 11.

St Peter's Hospital in Chertsey, Surrey, warned patients to "only visit if necessary".

It said in a statement: "If you are visiting the hospital over that weekend, please be aware of the diversions that will be in place and that there is likely to be considerable congestion in the local area. "

Map
Map

Mr Wade said: "Drivers should only use the M25 if their journey is absolutely necessary."

He advised motorists to avoid "simply following what a sat-nav says" and to follow signs in the area.

He added there was "probably a greater risk of congestion by people just doing their own thing and thinking they can perhaps beat the signs and find a shorter or quicker route".

Surrey's communities were braced for a "difficult" weekend and some school sports fixtures have been postponed.

Runnymede councillor Malcolm Cressey said "it could end up with all sorts of gridlock", while Woking councillor Tahir Aziz said there would be huge disruption, adding: "We've never experienced something like this."

Cass Alahmad
Cass Alahmad said they had been aware of the M25 closure but not that they were on the diversion route

In West Byfleet, which is on the diversion route, one resident, Rod Steel, said it would be a “nightmare” and people wouldn’t be able to go anywhere.

Another resident, Joanne Cripp, said: “I’ve put my car away. It’s not coming out until Monday morning.”

She said local people had been warned about the closure, but people coming from further afield might not know.

Cass Alahmad, from Chris Jackson dry cleaners, said: “It will affect us. The annoying part is that we did not know about the diversion.

"We only a knew a few days before the M25 would be shut over the weekend but we were not told the diversion would be through here.”

Roadworks with a yellow digger in the foreground
National Highways said the closure was to allow the demolition of a bridge and construction of a new gantry as part of an upgrade

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said: "For drivers who've already had their patience tried by the queues at the junction 10 works, the phrase 'you ain't seen nothing yet' springs to mind.

"We must hope National Highways has overstated its dire predictions of sat-navs adding to the traffic chaos by taking drivers off the official diversion route, because the temptation to try to skip the queues will be intense."

Meanwhile, AA president Edmund King said drivers can expect the closure to have "a significant impact" on journeys and advised drivers to give the M25 in Surrey a "wide berth".

The closure will be the first of five between now and September as part of a £317m upgrade project.

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