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M25 closure live: More disruption expected due to railway engineering works on same weekend

Britain's biggest road closed in both directions from Friday night to Monday morning between Junction 10 and Junction 11 in Surrey

Vehicles are seen queuing to leave the carriageway at Junction 10 of the London orbital motorway the M25, near Cobham, south-west of London on March 16, 2024, as the motorway sees it's first total closure over a weekend since it's opening in 1986. The M25 will be closed between junctions 10 and 11 from Friday 15 March evening until Monday 18 March morning to demolish the Clearmount bridleway bridge and install a very large gantry. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Drivers queuing to leave the carriageway at Junction 10 if the M25, near Cobham, Surrey, on Saturday morning. (Getty Images)

Drivers warned to expect hours-long delays could face even further disruption due to railway engineering works planned for the same weekend as a historic closure of the M25.

A five-mile stretch of the motorway between junctions 10 and 11 was closed in both directions at 9pm on Friday and will remain inaccessible until 6am on Monday while a bridge is demolished, and a new gantry installed.

It is National Highway's first planned daytime closure of the motorway – which encircles London – since it opened in 1986, with a 1.5-mile diversion route has been created to direct motorway traffic along A roads.

Concerns have been raised that thousands of drivers will be stuck in gridlocked traffic over the weekend, including in roads surrounding the circular motorway.

This could be made even worse due to planned engineering works on parts of South Western Railway's network over the weekend, as replacement buses are sent through roads already dealing with an influx from the M25.

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, the train operator said: "On Sunday 17 March, rail replacement buses between Epsom and Dorking, and between Epsom and Effingham Junction, may be delayed due to traffic diverted by the M25 road closure. Please allow extra time to complete your journey."

SWR has said it is not responsible for these works, adding that they are planned at least 12 months in advance by Network Rail.

One frustrated follower wrote: "This feels like incredibly poor planning to have both roads and rails closed in the area at the same time. From an industry perspective, this weekend is a moment when people who usually drive might consider using another mode of transport. This is a chance for the railways to put their best foot forward and win new customers. Instead...."

In a statement, National Rail told Yahoo News: “Due to planned engineering works, rail replacement buses are in operation this weekend.

"Owing to the closure of the M25, some rail replacement services may experience delays. We’re sorry for the disruption this may cause. Passengers are advised to check before travelling and allow extra time to complete their journey."

Yahoo News has ended its live coverage of the M25 closure for the day.

LIVE COVERAGE IS OVER18 updates
  • Pictures show traffic piling up in Weybridge as traffic diverted

    Vehicles queue along the hight street in Weybridge south-west of London on March 16, 2024, as the London orbital motorway M25 sees it's first total closure over a weekend since it's opening in 1986. The M25 will be closed between junctions 10 and 11 from Friday 15 March 2024 evening until Monday 18 March 2024 morning to demolish the Clearmount bridleway bridge and install a very large gantry. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
    Vehicles queue along Weybridge High Street. (Getty Images)
    Vehicles queue along the street going into Weybridge south-west of London on March 16, 2024, as the London orbital motorway M25 sees it's first total closure over a weekend since it's opening in 1986. The M25 will be closed between junctions 10 and 11 from Friday 15 March 2024 evening until Monday 18 March 2024 morning to demolish the Clearmount bridleway bridge and install a very large gantry. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
    Vehicles queue along a road going into Weybridge. (Getty Images)
    A cyclist makes his way through vehicles queueing along the street going into Weybridge south-west of London on March 16, 2024, as the London orbital motorway M25 sees it's first total closure over a weekend since it's opening in 1986. The M25 will be closed between junctions 10 and 11 from Friday 15 March 2024 evening until Monday 18 March 2024 morning to demolish the Clearmount bridleway bridge and install a very large gantry. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
    Weybridge is among the areas more noticeably affected. (Getty Images)
    Vehicles queue along the street going into Weybridge south-west of London on March 16, 2024, as the London orbital motorway M25 sees it's first total closure over a weekend since it's opening in 1986. The M25 will be closed between junctions 10 and 11 from Friday 15 March 2024 evening until Monday 18 March 2024 morning to demolish the Clearmount bridleway bridge and install a very large gantry. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
    Drivers were urged to avoid the area if possible. (Getty Images)
  • Traffic surrounding M25 according to Google Maps

    Google Maps m25 closure
    Traffic according to Google Maps as of 4.30pm Saturday. (Google Maps)

    This image from Google Maps shows some of the biggest trouble spots on roads surrounding the closed section of the M25.

    As you can see, the worst of the impact is being felt in Weybridge, Byfleet and on Guildford Road leading towards Ottershaw, with darker shades of red indicating the heaviest traffic.

    However, Yahoo News spoke to one businessowner in Sheerwater who said the roads around her had been "really quiet", so not everywhere has been badly impacted.

  • Admiring the view: People take selfies by empty stretch of M25

    As we mentioned earlier, this is the first planned closure of the M25 in both directions since the motorway was opened in 1986.

    To mark the historical event, some people have been stopping to take pictures, or just to take in the eerily quiet stretch of motorway.

    Fiona and Patrick Potter, residents of West Byfleet take a selfie on the Parvis Road bridge in Byfleet, that crosses over a closed section of the M25 between Junctions 10 and 11, while a bridge is demolished and a new gantry is installed. Picture date: Saturday March 16, 2024.
    Fiona and Patrick Potter, residents of West Byfleet take a selfie on the Parvis Road bridge in Byfleet. (Alamy)
    Young boys stand on the Parvis Road bridge in Byfleet, that crosses over a closed section of the M25 between Junctions 10 and 11, while a bridge is demolished and a new gantry is installed. Picture date: Saturday March 16, 2024.
    A group of young boys stand on the Parvis Road bridge to admire the view. (Alamy)
    A man walks across the Parvis Road bridge in Byfleet, that crosses over a closed section of the M25 between Junctions 10 and 11, while a bridge is demolished and a new gantry is installed. Picture date: Saturday March 16, 2024.
    A man walks across the unusually quiet stretch of motorway. (Alamy)
  • 'It's really quiet': Business owner says impact of M25 closure hasn't been that bad

    15.56 National Highways M25 closure
    Some heavy delays shown in black, with the closed section of the M25 shown in black and white. (National Highways)

    A business owner based just off the M25 diversion route has told Yahoo the impact of the closure hasn't been as bad as expected.

    Carolyn Atkins, from SuperGrass, an artificial grass company, just outside Woking, told Yahoo News: "It hasn't affected us at all actually. Our lads went off to work this morning, and it's been really quiet.

    "We just went into Woking and just came back and that was really quiet. I haven't been towards Byfleet or West Byfleet, but around here it's very quiet."

    Carolyn suggested this may have something to do with people following advice issued by National Highways to avoid the M25 and surrounding roads if possible.

    "Maybe it's because everybody is not doing what they would normally do," she said.

  • 'Ongoing delays' in some parts of Surrey, but county 'generally coping'

    In an update this afternoon, Surrey Highways have said roads in the country are 'generally coping' with the M25 closure between junction 10 at Wisley and junction 11 at Chertsey.

    However, it said there are "ongoing delays" between Byfleet and Painshill. The Surrey County Council body added: "Thank you to the drivers who are avoiding the area, and please continue to check travel updates.

  • Network Rail respond to criticism over railway works clashing with M25 closure

    Faced with accusations of "poor planning", Yahoo News asked Network Rail to comment on planned engineering works on parts of South Western Railway's network this weekend.

    Some of the affected stations include Esher, Hampton Court, Epsom and Leatherhead, which are relatively close to the M25.

    South Western Railway said replacement buses between Epsom and Dorking, and between Epsom and Effingham Junction, may be delayed due to traffic diverted by the M25 road closure, meaning traffic could get worse for some people on Sunday.

    The train operator was quick to point out that Network Rail is responsible for these works and plans them at least 12 months in advance.

    Responding to criticisms about the timing of these plans, a Network Rail spokesperson told Yahoo News: “Due to planned engineering works, rail replacement buses are in operation this weekend. Owing to the closure of the M25, some rail replacement services may experience delays.

    "We’re sorry for the disruption this may cause. Passengers are advised to check before travelling and allow extra time to complete their journey."

  • A brief history of the M25

    The Prime Minister Mrs Margaret Thatcher cuts the ribbon to open the final section of the M25 motorway.   (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
    Margaret Thatcher cuts the ribbon to open the final section of the M25 motorway in Watford, on 29 October, 1986. (Getty Images)

    Most people aren't exactly a "fan" of the M25, in fact, it was often referred to as the 'road to hell' and 'Britain's biggest car park' when it was first opened with its original three-lane layout.

    Then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher cut the ribbon of the final section of the motorway in Watford in October 1986 – completing the circle of the London Orbital Motorway.

    The idea orbital roads surrounding cities is nothing new, and London's traffic planners were drawing up schemes from the early 1900s onwards, according to the City of London's website.

    In the 1950s, central government planners were considering two separate motorways connecting with London, one running outside the north of the capital, to be called the M16, and another around the south, the original M25.

    Plans developed into a single ring motorway, now just called the M25, with work beginning in 1975. Passing through five counties: Kent, Surrey, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex the motorway was built in a series of sections.

    Speed of progress depended on how planning regulations were dealt with and the strength of local opposition. Overall, the project took eleven years and used more than two million tonnes of concrete and 3.5 million tonnes of asphalt. Most of the motorway was initially unlit at night.

    The 117 mile motorway cost over £900 million, at 1986 prices, which would be worth more than £2.5 billion today.

    In some ways, the motorway was a victim of its own success, as the original three-lane system soon found itself unable to cope with the amount of traffic passing through. This is why so much work has been carried out on the M25 since. Over 200,000 vehicles a day use the M25 now, accounting for around 15% of all UK motorway traffic.

  • Further M25 delays expected as 150 maintenance workers to strike over pay

    Highway maintenance vehicle travelling on a UK motorway. (Photo by: Chris Harris/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
    Unite claims the pay offer for maintenance workers is below inflation, and so is a real-terms pay cut. (Getty Images)

    Around 150 M25 maintenance workers will go on strike over pay, a union has said.

    Unite, which represents the workers, said the walkout would cause “inconvenience and delays” on the major motorway encircling most of Greater London.

    Union members voted to strike after being offered a pay rise of 3.4 per cent by Balfour Beatty, an infrastructure company which has a 30-year contract to manage the M25 and its key arterial link roads.

    Read the full story from the Evening Standard here

  • First half of new M25 gantry being put in place

    National Highways has reported on the progress of the new gantry being built during this weekend's closure between junctions 10 and 11.

    In an update just after midday, the agency said: "Work is progressing and we're preparing to lift the first half of the new gantry into place."

  • Network Rail is 'responsible for engineering works' during M25 closure

    South Western Rail (SWR) has said it is not responsible for planned engineering works on its network that will coincide with this weekend's closure of the M25 in Surrey.

    In response to an unhappy member of the public on X, the railway operator wrote: "South Western Railway are not responsible for engineering works.

    "Engineering works are planned at least 12 months in advance by Network Rail who are responsible for maintaining the UK's rail network."

    Yahoo News has contacted Network Rail for comment.

  • 'This feels like incredibly poor planning': Railway engineering works clash with M25 closure

    https://twitter.com/SW_Help/status/1768894984055300167/photo/1
    Planned engineering works on SWR's network this weekend. (X/@SW_Help)

    If people in Surrey thought the M25 closure was inconvenient enough, South Western Railway has also announced planned engineering works on some of its routes this weekend, as shown on this map.

    Posting on X, formerly Twitter, the railway operator said: "On Sunday 17 March, rail replacement buses between Epsom and Dorking, and between Epsom and Effingham Junction, may be delayed due to traffic diverted by the M25 road closure.

    "Please allow extra time to complete your journey."

    Suggesting this is perhaps not the best timing for even more disruption to major transport links, one follower replied: "This feels like incredibly poor planning to have both roads and rails closed in the area at the same time.

    "From an industry perspective, this weekend is a moment when people who usually drive might consider using another mode of transport. This is a chance for the railways to put their best foot forward and win new customers. Instead....."

    Yahoo News has contacted SWR for comment.

  • Locals fear 'whole of North Surrey' will come to 'grinding halt'

    Reporting from an overpass of the M25, journalist Simon Calder has said local people have told him their roads can barely cope with the school run, let alone an unprecedented closure of the M25.

    With the M25 normally carrying up to 6,000 vehicles in each direction per hour, Calder said the closure could mean "100 cars, trucks and buses suddenly piling onto the lovely road" just near the area he was standing by.

    He said that National Highways are worried that people frustrated with gridlocked traffic on the official diversion routes will switch on their satnavs and be directed down narrow and quiet country roads.

    "You'll get the whole of North Surrey grinding to a halt," the Independent's travel correspondent added.

  • M25 closure: Tips on driving as major delays expected this weekend

    An overhead view shows work ongoing at Junction 10 of the London orbital motorway the M25, near Cobham, south-west of London on March 16, 2024, as the motorway sees it's first total closure over a weekend since it's opening in 1986. The M25 will be closed between junctions 10 and 11 from Friday 15 March evening until Monday 18 March morning to demolish the Clearmount bridleway bridge and install a very large gantry. (Photo by Justin TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
    An overhead view of this weekend's roadworks at Junction 10. (Getty Images)

    The AA has warned that while these roadworks are a "necessary evil", they will make the M25 "feel like a new level of hell".

    “The M25 is the biggest bypass in Europe so any closure will potentially cause chaos," said AA president Edmund King.

    "Hopefully, drivers will have heard the messages about the closure in advance and been able to adjust their plans accordingly, either by avoiding the area entirely, not driving or by choosing alternative routes."

    With this in mind, the AA has offered some advice to help drivers "keep their cool" amid dire gridlocks, and the most effective way to drive in heavy traffic.

    You can read the full story from Yahoo News here

  • Local businesses expect to lose customers this weekened due to closure

    https://www.trafficengland.com
    The most recent update on gridlock around the M25. Red indicates traffic is moving very slowly, and black means it is not moving at all. Black and white shows the closed section. (National Highways)

    Business owners in areas along the M25 diversion route have had to make cuts to their services in anticipation of gridlocked traffic.

    Mark Pollak, owner of Billy Tong, which caters for events and sells biltong at markets, said he expects to see 50% of the firm’s turnover for the weekend go “down the drain”.

    Pollak said he had to refuse a request to cater an event in Guildford and had to cancel its stall at Surbiton Farmers’ Market on Saturday with staff not wanting to face expected traffic to get to jobs.

    “It has a massive impact on my business,” he said. “I’ve cancelled events, I can’t get customers to come and collect stuff, I can’t get my staff to go to events.”

    Ammara Kanwal, director of Code Kids, cancelled a coding club session due to take place at Cobham Free School on Saturday over fears she would not be able to make it there on time.

    She said: “It was a bit of a disappointment. I am the one who cancelled, it was my business, so I am having to issue a refund for tomorrow.

    “I mean, nobody wants to travel somewhere for two hours if it doesn’t take that long, it’s not fair.”

    However, some businesses are not expecting to take too big a hit. For example, a staff member at the Black Prince in Addlestone said most of the pub's customers are local and within walking distance.

    Motoring experts are warning that official estimates of congestion levels may be “optimistic” while local councillors in areas where motorway traffic will be diverted are anticipating “gridlock”.

  • Tom Cruise 'plans to fly Mission Impossible crew over M25 in helicopter'

    Actor Tom Cruise, attends the London's Air Ambulance charity gala dinner at Raffles London at The OWO, in Horseguards Avenue, London. Picture date: Wednesday February 7, 2024. PA Photo. The dinner is being held in support of the charity's largest ever fundraising campaign, 'Up Against Time', which aims to raise £15 million by autumn this year to replace the charity's helicopter fleet. See PA story ROYAL William. Photo credit should read: Daniel Leal/PA Wire
    Mission Impossible star Tom Cruise has reportedly found a novel way around the M25 closure. (PA)

    Tom Cruise reportedly plans to avoid traffic chaos amid the M25 closure by flying his Mission Impossibe cast and crew over the bottleneck in a helicopter.

    The 61-year-old actor is a trained pilot and The Sun reported on Friday that he is prepared to fly cast and crew to Longcross Studios to help progress filming of the eighth Mission Impossible film.

    Cruise has been working at the filming location this week to try and meet a 2025 deadline for the next film, where he will again play agent Ethan Hunt, according to The Sun. The seventh film, Dead Reckoning Part One came out last year.

    Read the full story from the Evening Standard here

  • First daytime closure of stretch of M25 ‘going to be a nightmare’, councillor warns

    The first planned daytime closure of the M25 today could be a “nightmare”, a councillor fears as local residents and businesses along the diversion route brace for the impact.

    Daryl Jordan, of Woking Borough Council, said the Byfleet Road, which is close to junction 10, had been “chock-a-block” on Friday afternoon.

    Warning that residents will be “affected massively”, he said: "It is pulling people apart,” the councillor told PA.

    “I mean, you know, when you work full-time and then you’re going to get home tonight from work thinking ‘I must fill the fridge up’ and you can’t even get into your own village.

    “It’s going to be a nightmare. Just going down the road to get milk is going to be a problem tomorrow or picking up your dry cleaning.”

  • Two miles of congestion on parts of M25 on first morning of closure

    Taken 11:10 16/03/2024
    The closed section of the M25 is shown in black and white, while red indicates traffic that is barely moving. (National Highways)

    Up to two miles of congestion has built up on the M25 in Surrey this morning after the planned closure began last night.

    National Highways South East (NHSE), in a post to X, formerly Twitter, said there were two miles of tailbacks on approach to the closure at junction 10 on Saturday morning.

    the government-owned agency added: "If you do have to travel, please leave a lot of extra time."

    Meanwhile, traffic has begun to build along the main diversion route through Byfleet, West Byfleet, Woking and Ottershaw.

    National Highways estimated the average journey time along the diversion route was 25 minutes, assuring drivers of minimal congestion. An 11.5-mile diversion route has been created to direct motorway traffic along A roads.

  • M25 closure will see 'carnage' on diversion route, say villagers

    Ahead of the planned closure on the M25, business owners and residents spoke to Yahoo News, predicting ‘carnage’, cancellations, disturbed sleep and ‘traffic everywhere’.

    Read the full story from Yahoo News.