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London travel news LIVE: M25 closure causes three-mile tailback on 'nightmare' diversion route as gantry built

National Highways has assured motorists that work is “progressing” on the M25 with miles of tailbacks reported along diversion routes thanks to a section being closed this weekend.

It is the first planned daytime closure of the motorway – which encircles London – since it opened in 1986.

A five-mile stretch of motorway will be closed until 6am on Monday between junctions 10 and 11. Major congestion has been reported near Byfleet, Weybridge, on the A309 at Hampton Court and other parts of Surrey due to an 11.5-mile diversion route.

Photographs show National Highways teams demolishing a bridge between junction 10 and 11 and installing a large gantry.

“Work is progressing and we're preparing to lift the first half of the new gantry into place,” National Highways said, adding that delays continue.

Surrey residents and businesses hunkered down to avoid the gridlock on Saturday, described as “a nightmare” by one Woking councillor.

Follow latest updates below.

Key Points

What is the diversion route?

Saturday 16 March 2024 07:14 , Miriam Burrell

Good morning.

Motorists are waking up to the first partial closure of the M25 in history.

Part of the motorway will remain closed until 6am on Monday.

Alternatively, around 200,000 drivers will have take an 11.5-mile diversion around Painshill, Byfleet, and West Byfleet on the eastern side of Woking.

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

Residents fearing traffic 'nightmare' on M25

Saturday 16 March 2024 07:49 , Will Mata

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

The 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.

See the full story here.

Traffic at the Epsom junction of the M25 (Motorway Cameras)
Traffic at the Epsom junction of the M25 (Motorway Cameras)

Traffic beginning to build near the closure point

Saturday 16 March 2024 07:54 , Will Mata

The first signs of weekend traffic at the point of closure has been spotted.

Around 5km of traffic has been logged by Inrix at the point of junction 10 on the clockwise section.

The traffic building at junction 10 (Inrix)
The traffic building at junction 10 (Inrix)

'Just going to get milk will be a problem'

Saturday 16 March 2024 07:56 , Will Mata

A Woking councillor has shared fears of a ‘nightmare weekend’ with residents set to face problems getting basic supplies.

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

He said residents will be “affected massively”.

“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.”

RAC say don't follow your sat nav

Saturday 16 March 2024 08:04 , Will Mata

The RAC has reiterated the National Highways warning about using sat nav devices.

Skipping approved routes could lead to further delays for everyone, the roadside assistance has said.

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, told the PA news agency: “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, and the impact on actual journey times uncertain.

“Whilst the modelling suggests around an hour might be added to people’s travel time, that will feel optimistic to anyone used to the frustrations of driving round the M25 on days even without major construction works under way.”

Follow signs and not a screen, authorities have said (PA)
Follow signs and not a screen, authorities have said (PA)

Length of time added to journeys limited to one hour

Saturday 16 March 2024 08:11 , Will Mata

National Highways has said modelling carried out while it was developing its plans for this weekend indicated vehicles would face delays of up to five hours without mitigation measures, such as urging drivers to stay away.

The Government-owned company believes its awareness campaign will help reduce traffic levels by approximately 50 per cent meaning the length of time added to journeys will be limited to around an hour.

Highways update: Diversion time less than 25 minutes

Saturday 16 March 2024 08:33 , Will Mata

There is less than one mile of congestion on the approach to the M25 closures at J10 clockwise and J11 anti-clockwise, National Highways has said.

“If you're travelling on the diversion route, your average journey time is just under 25 minutes,” a statement read.

What are the works actually in aid of?

Saturday 16 March 2024 08:38 , Will Mata

The closure is taking place to allow road engineers to complete demolition works and gantry installation.

While other motorways have been closed off, this is the first time it has happened on the M25.

National Highways has said: “We carefully plan all our closures to limit disruption, but sometimes it's not possible to carry out all the work that's needed without a closure. We have planned all our closures to avoid holiday periods and key events in the area.

“The work needs to be carried out now to continue the good progress on the delivery of the scheme which is due to open to traffic next summer.”

Traffic grows on diversion route, Byfleet Road

Saturday 16 March 2024 09:03 , Will Mata

The traffic nightmare Surrey residents were fearing is beginning to materialise with a 2km build up on Byfleet Road.

The road is one of the diversion routes near to junction 10 of the road at Cobham.

Traffic building on the Byfleet Road diversion (Inrix)
Traffic building on the Byfleet Road diversion (Inrix)

Heavy traffic now seen backing up from junction 10

Saturday 16 March 2024 09:18 , Will Mata

Several kilometers of traffic is now backing up towards and beyond Hatchford on the M25.

The clockwise section approaching junction 10 now appears to be the busiest part.

The live map status (Inrix)
The live map status (Inrix)

A21 was closed while police attended incident in Kent

Saturday 16 March 2024 09:20 , Will Mata

The A21 in both directions was closed near Sevenoaks on Friday after police responded to a concern for welfare.

Kent Police was called around 4.30pm.

“Both carriageways were closed while emergency services responded to the incident,” a Kent Police statement said.

“A woman was taken to hospital for medical attention and was passed into the care of health professionals. The A21 was reopened at around 8.15pm.”

Two miles of congestion approaching junction 10

Saturday 16 March 2024 09:30 , Will Mata

“If you do have to travel, please leave a lot of extra time,” National Highways has said - warning that there are now two mile tailbacks on the M25 approaching junction 10 clockwise.

Delays now spreading onto A3 from M25 at Wisley

Saturday 16 March 2024 10:20 , Will Mata

The A3 is now experiencing a high volume of traffic from the Wisley interchange - which is the M25 junction 10.

The main roads near to Wisley Common are seen to now be suffering from the overspill from the M25 works.

Latest data from Inrix shows traffic is not moving for around 1km east and west of the Wisley junction.

Tom Crusie 'to fly helicopter over M25'

Saturday 16 March 2024 10:25 , Will Mata

If you’re stuck in traffic, National Highways will encourage you to follow the official directions - but waiting around isn’t really Tom Cruise’s style.

The actor is reportedly ready to fly his crew out to Longwood Studios, where he is filming Mission Impossible 8, by helicopter.

Full story here.

Tom Cruise (PA Wire)
Tom Cruise (PA Wire)

Traffic building in Chertsey and A309

Saturday 16 March 2024 10:29 , Will Mata

Relief roads around junction 11 are now starting to bear the load of the traffic leaving the M25.

Delays can be seen to be mounting in Chertsey area on the anticlockwise section and the A317, which is the road that connects to the junction.

Knock on effects can also be seen further into London - such as the A309, which leads into Kingston.

A one mile section approaching Hampton Court shows that journeys are taking some time.

Traffic now building on diversion route

Saturday 16 March 2024 10:42 , Will Mata / PA

Traffic is starting 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.

South East Coast Ambulance Service, which covers Surrey, meanwhile urged drivers to clear the way for ambulances ahead of a “challenging weekend” for crews.

Video explainer: All you need to know about the closure

Saturday 16 March 2024 10:52 , Will Mata

Traffic now approaching 10km in Cobham

Saturday 16 March 2024 11:00 , Will Mata

Relief roads in Cobham - where M25 traffic is being sent due to the closure - are now being clogged with traffic.

Data from Inrix shows that the length of the queues is now around 10km on the A245.

The scale of the delays now in Cobham area (Inrix)
The scale of the delays now in Cobham area (Inrix)

Estimates of congestion might be 'optimisic'

Saturday 16 March 2024 11:11 , Will Mata

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".

The M25 normally carries between 4,000 and 6,000 vehicles in each direction every hour from 10am until 9pm at weekends between junctions nine and 11.

This includes many airline passengers travelling to, from and between the UK's two busiest airports, Heathrow and Gatwick.

Four more daytime closures of the M25 will take place up to September.

The project, due to be completed in summer 2025, will increase the number of lanes at junction 10, which is one of the UK's busiest and most dangerous motorway junctions.

Pictures: Work begins on M25 as cars are diverted

Saturday 16 March 2024 11:29 , Will Mata

Traffic being diverted upon reaching Junction 10 of the M25 (Yui Mok/PA Wire)
Traffic being diverted upon reaching Junction 10 of the M25 (Yui Mok/PA Wire)
Workman on the section of the M25 between Junctions 10 and 11, in Surrey (Yui Mok/PA Wire)
Workman on the section of the M25 between Junctions 10 and 11, in Surrey (Yui Mok/PA Wire)
Workman on the section of the M25 between Junctions 10 and 11, in Surrey (Yui Mok/PA Wire)
Workman on the section of the M25 between Junctions 10 and 11, in Surrey (Yui Mok/PA Wire)
Workman on the section of the M25 between Junctions 10 and 11, in Surrey, that is closed in both directions while a bridge is demolished and a new gantry is installed (Yui Mok/PA Wire)
Workman on the section of the M25 between Junctions 10 and 11, in Surrey, that is closed in both directions while a bridge is demolished and a new gantry is installed (Yui Mok/PA Wire)

'Pockets of congestion' into Surrey

Saturday 16 March 2024 12:30 , Will Mata

Surrey’s own highways department has urged motorists to avoid roads linking to the M25 this afternoon.

Surrey Highways wrote on Twitter: “There are pockets of congestion on the diversion route through Byfleet, West Byfleet, Woking and Ottershaw.

“Also some queues in surrounding communities. Please avoid the area if you can, check travel updates and leave plenty of time for your journeys.”

Work is progresssing and first half of new gantry being lifted into place

Saturday 16 March 2024 12:43 , Will Mata

National Highways has shared the good news that work is progressing

The authority tweeted that it is preparing to lift the first half of the new gantry into place.

The statement added that delays are continuing.

“Delays continue on approach to the closure #M25 both directions between J10 & J11

“We advise only to travel if necessary and follow the diversion route if you must undertake your journey.”

Traffic stretches back around 8km from junction 10

Saturday 16 March 2024 13:35 , Will Mata

Queues of traffic are now stretching back around 8km from junction 10 of the M25.

Data from Inrix is showing that congestion is heavy for several kilometres and lighter further on.

The Surrey section of the M25 near the turn off for Hatchford is the current pinchpoint.

Traffic stretches along the M25 (Traffic Cameras)
Traffic stretches along the M25 (Traffic Cameras)

Watch: Drone footage shows repairs being made

Saturday 16 March 2024 13:41 , Will Mata

Pictured: Weybridge traffic

Saturday 16 March 2024 14:07 , Miriam Burrell

Traffic is at a gridlock in the Surrey town of Weybridge as drivers avoid the M25 closure between junction 10 and 11.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Gridlock through Byfleet and Weybridge

Saturday 16 March 2024 14:23 , Miriam Burrell

Traffic appears to be at a gridlock for around three miles along Byfleet Road, which is part of the diversion route, according to Inrix data.

There’s also congestion through Weybridge, another Surrey town, and along the M25 leading up to the closure at Wisley Interchange.

A reminder of the diversion route

Saturday 16 March 2024 14:24 , Miriam Burrell

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

Business owners worried about impact of the repair work

Saturday 16 March 2024 15:21 , Will Mata / PA

Business owners in the areas along the diversion route have told of cuts they have made to their services in anticipation of traffic.

Mark Pollak, owner of Billy Tong, which caters for events and sells biltong at markets, said he expects to see 50 per cent of the firm's turnover for the weekend go "down the drain".

Mr Pollak said he had to refuse a request for Billy Tong 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.

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".

Delays at Painshill and Byfleet

Saturday 16 March 2024 15:35 , Will Mata

There are ongoing delays between Byfleet and Painshill as a result of the M25 closure between J10 and J11.

“Surrey's roads are generally coping with the impact of the M25 closure,” Surrey Highways tweeted.

“But we're seeing ongoing delays between #Byfleet and #Painshill. Thank you to the drivers who are avoiding the area, and please continue to check travel updates.”

What a sight! Byfleet enjoys sight of empty road

Saturday 16 March 2024 15:43 , Will Mata

Some images here of Surrey residents making the most of an empty road between junctions 10 and 11 of the M25.

A man walks across the Parvis Road bridge in Byfleet (Yui Mok/PA Wire)
A man walks across the Parvis Road bridge in Byfleet (Yui Mok/PA Wire)
Four mates stand on the Parvis Road bridge in Byfleet (Yui Mok/PA Wire)
Four mates stand on the Parvis Road bridge in Byfleet (Yui Mok/PA Wire)
Fiona and Patrick Potter, residents of West Byfleet take a selfie on the Parvis Road bridge in Byfleet (Yui Mok/PA Wire)
Fiona and Patrick Potter, residents of West Byfleet take a selfie on the Parvis Road bridge in Byfleet (Yui Mok/PA Wire)

Major collision causes more chaos on M25

Saturday 16 March 2024 16:40 , Robert Dex

There are more delays on the M25 between Junction 5 and 6 after a “multiple vehicle collision”.

National Highways Southwest said traffic was being held “to allow emergency services to work at the scene”.

Drivers urged to help ambulance services during busy weekend

Saturday 16 March 2024 17:14 , Robert Dex

Drivers have been urged to help keep ambulances moving through the congestion.

A spokesman for South East Coast Ambulance Service which covers Surrey, told the Daily Telegraph: “We ask for the public’s support and advise motorists to avoid the area unless their journey is essential.

“We also ask that, as ever, they are aware of any emergency vehicles looking to progress through any heavier traffic.”

Road will be reopened as soon as it is safe - delays still in place between junctions five and six

Saturday 16 March 2024 17:26 , Robert Dex

Traffic officers are still at the scene of a serious collision between junction five at Sevenoaks and junction six.

A spokesman for National Highways: South-East said the road would be opened “as soon as it is safe”.

Up to five miles of congestion following collision

Saturday 16 March 2024 17:48 , Robert Dex

Drivers face up to five miles of congestion around junction six as traffic officers deal with the aftermath of a collision.

All four lanes re-open after collision but delays still in place

Saturday 16 March 2024 18:50 , Robert Dex

A National Highways spokesman said all four lanes are now open between junction five and six.

They added: “There remains approximately 5 miles of congestion and a delay of 45 mins but these are easing now all lanes are open and should be clear soon.”

Green Party politician compares M25 closure to an LTN

Saturday 16 March 2024 19:26 , Robert Dex

Green Party London Assembly member Sian Berry said she hoped the M25 closure might point to the possibility of “driver behaviour” changing.

The former Camden councillor said: “For a few days, the busiest part of the M25 has been literally turned into a low traffic neighbourhood, and somehow the diversion route in Surrey is currently quieter than it normally is. “Can driving behaviour... change?”

Coverage ends for the night

Saturday 16 March 2024 20:16 , Robert Dex

This is the end of our coverage tonight. It will resume tomorrow.