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London travel news LIVE: Stretch of M25 shut for entire weekend with National Highways warning of long delays

A five-mile stretch of the M25 has shut in both directions until Monday morning.

Travel chaos is expected this weekend as a result of the unprecedented closure, which was due to begin at 9pm on Friday.

The London orbital is closed between junction 10 and 11 in Surrey until 6am on Monday, so a bridge can be demolished and lanes extended.

It is the first planned daytime closure of the motorway since it opened in 1986.

Diversions are in place but National Highways says “long delays” are expected.

National Highways project leader Jonathan Wade has warned people to avoid the area. He told the Independent’s travel podcast: “Find something to do at home – decorate the bathroom or something, or play in the garden.

“Avoid driving anywhere around those diversionary routes around Painshill, Byfleet, West Byfleet on the eastern side of Woking. It will be in your interests.”

Follow latest updates below.

Gatwick trains chaos as lorry hits railway bridge

Friday 15 March 2024 07:23 , Josh Salisbury

A vehicle striking a bridge at Thornton Heath means all lines are blocked, affecting trains to Gatwick Airport.

All services which run between Selhurst and Streatham Common now either have to be cancelled or diverted as emergency repairs take place.

Gatwick Express services have been removed from service, while Southern trains between Redhill and Gatwick Airport / Three Bridges will be diverted into London Bridge.

Southern trains between London Victoria and Epsom Downs / Sutton, will be diverted via Crystal Palace, while Southern services between East Croydon and Clapham Junction / Milton Keynes / Watford Junction will be suspended.

For more detail on all affected services, visit here.

Motorists brace for closure of M25

Friday 15 March 2024 07:31 , Josh Salisbury

Drivers have been warned of long delays this weekend during the first planned daytime closure of the M25.

The motorway is being shut in both directions to allow the demolition of Clearmount Bridge and enable a large gantry to be installed.

The motorway will be closed between junctions 10 and 11 from 9pm today to 6am on Monday.

The following diversion route will be in place in both directions:

Junction 10 - Junction 11: Northbound A3 to Painshill Junction, A245 towards Woking, and then A320 to M25 Junction 11.

Junction 11 - Junction 10: A320 south towards Woking, A245 towards Byfleet and Painshill junction, Southbound A3 to Junction 10.

Around 200,000 vehicles are expected to be affected by the closure.

Gatwick train chaos 'to continue until at least midday'

Friday 15 March 2024 07:52 , Will Mata

National Rail has said the disruption following the vehicle hitting the bridge at Thornton Heath will cause major disruption until midday.

As previously reported, all lines are blocked in the area with trains to Gatwick Airport being disrupted.

Gatwick Express services have been removed from service, while Southern trains between Redhill and Gatwick Airport / Three Bridges will be diverted into London Bridge.

Alternative routes for customers impacted by Thornton Heath disruption

Friday 15 March 2024 08:16 , Will Mata

Passengers can use the following routes for no extra cost if journeys are impacted by the disruption at Thornton Heath, National Rail has said:

- London Trams between Mitcham Junction, West Croydon, East Croydon and Beckenham Junction or Elmers End, for Southeastern and alternative Southern services,

- London Northwestern Railway services between London Euston, Watford Junction and Hemel Hempstead, and also between Watford Junction and St Albans Abbey, for Thameslink from St Albans.

Long delays expected on M25 from tonight

Friday 15 March 2024 08:31 , Will Mata

The M25 between junctions 10 and 11 will be closed in both directions from 9pm on Friday to 6am on Monday.

“Only travel this stretch if essential. Long delays expected,” National Highways has said.

“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.”

Disruption was caused by vehicle becoming stuck during police chase

Friday 15 March 2024 08:54 , Anthony France / William Mata

The disruption at Thornton Heath was caused after a stolen vehicle being chased by police became stuck under a railway bridge in south London.

This has blocked all train lines and cancellation of the Gatwick Express.

Officers were in pursuit of two cars in Thornton Heath and Wallington after they failed to stop for police around 4am today.

One collided with a lamppost on the bridge in Whitehorse Road, South Norwood - sending debris onto the rail lines below.

Thornton Heath railway station
Thornton Heath railway station

Injuries are non life threatening

Friday 15 March 2024 08:56 , Will Mata

The police have confirmed the injuries of the occupant of the vehicle are non life threatening and that he has been arrested.

The Metropolitan Police said: “The occupant of the vehicle was taken to hospital.

“His injuries are not life-threatening or life-changing. He has also been arrested.

“The other vehicle is still being sought by police.”

No London Overground services between Willesden Junction and Richmond

Friday 15 March 2024 08:59 , Will Mata

A fault with the signalling system between Willesden Junction and Richmond means that trains are currently unable to run between these stations.

As a result, services will be cancelled, or revised to terminate at / start back from Willesden Junction.

Disruption is expected until 11am on Friday.

You may use your ticket on local bus services via any reasonable route at no extra cost, National Rail has said.

Thornton Heath: Closures remain in place

Friday 15 March 2024 09:07 , Will Mata

The Thornton Heath disruption is ongoing this morning, authorities have said.

The closure of Whitehorse Road, between Bensham Manor Road and Zion Place, remains in place while structural engineers assess damage to the railway bridge wall.

A police spokesman said: “Trains have currently been stopped as there is debris to be cleared from the tracks to ensure safe running of trains.

“We are working in partnership with the local authority, British Transport Police and Network Rail to re-open these transport links as soon as they are safe to use.”

Delays of '30 minutes or more' on A2

Friday 15 March 2024 10:11 , Will Mata

Delays of 30 minutes have been reported on the A2 westbound into Kent.

Two of the four lanes of the motorway are closed between Ebbsleet and Bluewater - with four miles of tailbacks.

National Highways tweeted: “Repairs are underway at scene, with the lane closures in place for safety.

“Delays of 30 minutes and approximately four miles of congestion.”

Lines have reopened in Willesden but delays of 35 minutes still being felt

Friday 15 March 2024 10:16 , Will Mata

London Overground services between Willesden Junction and Richmond are now running again.

However, National Rail has reported that there could be delays of up to 35 minutes.

Their account tweeted:

“Lines have now reopened following an earlier fault with the signalling system between Willesden Junction and Richmond.

“As service recovers, trains may still be cancelled, delayed by up to 35 minutes or revised.”

Tram part suspended

Friday 15 March 2024 11:10 , Will Mata

There is currently no service on London Tramlink between Harrington Road and Beckenham Junction due to a road traffic accident.

There is otherwise a good service operating on the route, Transport for London has said.

This will also affect passengers going to Birkbeck, Avenue Road or Beckenham Road.

Incident at New Cross Gate

Friday 15 March 2024 11:57 , Will Mata

Delays between London Bridge and Norwood Junction are expected until 12.20pm after an incident at New Cross Gate.

A passenger had been taken ill on a train between London Bridge and Norwood Junction.

Slow traffic on North Circular after crash

Friday 15 March 2024 12:24 , Josh Salisbury

The North Circular is partially blocked at the Brent Flyover, according to traffic monitoring data.

There is slow traffic because of the crash which happened on the roundabout at the A41 Hendon Way Southbound.

Delays to Elizabeth line

Friday 15 March 2024 13:12 , Matt Watts

Transport for London has said there are minor delays between Abbey Wood and Paddington due to a faulty train on the Acton Main Line.

It has said there is a good service on the rest of the line.

Passengers have reported a 20 minute wait between trains.

Lines to Brighton still impacted by bridge crash

Friday 15 March 2024 13:21 , Will Mata

The knock on effects of a car striking a bridge at Thornton Heath means that some lines are currently blocked, Network Rail has said.

In an update at 1pm on Friday, it said trains running between Selhurst and Streatham Common may be cancelled, delayed by up to 30 minutes or reduced to an hourly service.

Routes affected are Southern between Bognor Regis / Horsham / East Grinstead / Reigate / Epsom Downs / Littlehampton / Portsmouth & Southsea / Southampton Central / Ore and London Victoria, and also between East Croydon and Watford Junction

Full article: Driver arrested after car chased by police smashes into railway bridge

Friday 15 March 2024 13:35 , Will Mata

The disruption on the line though south London began with a police chase this morning.

A driver has now been arrested, as Anthony France reports.

Severe delays on Metropolitan line

Friday 15 March 2024 14:52 , Will Mata

There are severe delays on the Metropolitan line between Harrow-on-the-Hill and Aldgate due to an earlier faulty train at Baker Street, Transport for London has said.

There is a good service on the rest of the line.

“Tickets are being accepted on London Overground, Chiltern Railways and Buses via any reasonable route,” a statement added.

Delays on M11 after lorry stalls

Friday 15 March 2024 15:02 , Will Mata

The exit ramp to the M11 northbound has been blocked - causing long delays.

A stalled lorry on the A406 North Circular Northbound at M11 J4 was the root of the issue.

There is now congestion to Ilford, with delays along the Northbound A12 on approach to the North Circular.

Severe delays on the Central line

Friday 15 March 2024 15:29 , Will Mata

Transport for London has reported severe delays between White City and Ealing Broadway on the Central line.

There are also minor delays between North Acton and West Ruislip and between Leytonstone and Hainault via Newbury Park due to train cancellations.

No service on part of Overground after fault with overhead power lines

Friday 15 March 2024 15:35 , Will Mata

On the Overground, there is currently no service between Hackney Downs and Chingford and between Liverpool Street at Cheshunt / Enfield Town.

Transport for London has said this is while Network Rail fix a fault with the overhead power lines at Hackney Downs.

London Underground is accepting tickets via reasonable routes.

Fault affecting trains to and from Liverpool Street including Stansted Express

Friday 15 March 2024 17:10 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

A fault with overhead wires at Hackney Downs is causing disruption to trains running through the station.

Trains between Liverpool Street and Hackney Downs, including Stansted Express services, are affected.

The disruption is expected until 7.45pm.

National Rail says trains may be cancelled, diverted, or delayed by up to 30 minutes.

Drivers brace for unprecedented M25 closure

Friday 15 March 2024 17:14 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

An unprecedented closure of the M25 will see the five-mile stretch between junctions 10 and 11 in Surrey close in both directions from 9pm.

The closure will be in place across the weekend, until 6am on Monday.

Diversions will be in place, but drivers are warned to expect major tailbacks and have been urged by National Highways to avoid the area.

Read full details of the closure and diversion routes here.

Full details of M25 diversion routes in place this weekend

Friday 15 March 2024 17:37 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

The below map shows the 11.5-mile diversion routes in place between junctions 10 and 11 of the M25 during this weekend’s closure.

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

Drivers travelling from Junction 10 to Junction 11 will be diverted northbound on the A3 to Painshill Junction, then onto the A245 towards Woking, and then onto the A320 to M25 Junction 11.Drivers travelling in the opposite direction will be diverted off the M25 at Junction 11 and onto the A320 south towards Woking, then onto the A245 towards Byfleet and Painshill junction, and onto the southbound A3 to rejoin at Junction 10.

Major congestion is expected, and drivers are warned to avoid the area where possible.

Fears over 'gridlock' on diversion routes this weekend

Friday 15 March 2024 17:57 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Concerns have been raised that thousands of drivers will be stuck in gridlocked traffic this weekend during the unprecedented closure of the M25.

Motoring experts are warning that official estimates of congestion levels may be “optimistic”, while local councillors in areas where M25 traffic will be diverted are anticipating “gridlock”.

At weekends, between 4,000 and 6,000 vehicles typically travel between junctions 10 and 11 in each direction every hour, between 10am and 9pm.

Malcolm Cressey, of Runnymede Borough Council, said he believes the closure will “be very disruptive” and could lead to “all sorts of gridlock in our area”.

Tahir Aziz, of Woking Borough Council, said: “We’ve never experienced something like this before.

“It will cause huge disruption and delays, and a lot of traffic jams.”

Hospital warns against all but necessary visits, ahead of M25 closure

Friday 15 March 2024 18:00 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey, Surrey, is urging people to “only visit if it is necessary” this weekend.

It said in a statement: “Please be aware of the diversions that will be in place and that there is likely to be considerable congestion in the local area.

“Please plan your journey allowing extra time as it is likely to take longer than usual.”

Overground suspended due to Hackney Downs line fault

Friday 15 March 2024 18:10 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

A fault with power lines at Hackney Downs is causing major disruption to trains between the station and Liverpool Street, as we reported earlier.

TfL says the Overground has been suspended between Hackney Downs and Chingford because of the issue, and there are severe delays between Liverpool Street and Cheshunt/Enfield Town.

National Rail says the disruption is expected until 7.45pm.

Multiple rail companies hit by 'major' IT issues

Friday 15 March 2024 18:35 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Southern and Thameslink are experiencing major IT network issues this evening.

“The publishing of service information may be slightly delayed” as a result, says National Rail.

Severe delays on Overground as line reopens

Friday 15 March 2024 19:07 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

The Overground has reopened following an earlier fault with the overhead power lines at Hackney Downs, but there are still severe delays on the line, says TfL.

National rail services to and from Liverpool Street that travel through Hackney Downs, including the Stansted Express, are also still being disrupted.

National Rail says services may be cancelled or delayed by up to 10 minutes. Disruption is now expected until 8.15pm.

Minor delays on Central Line

Friday 15 March 2024 19:32 , Daniel Keane

There are currently minor delays between White City and Ealing Broadway, between North Acton and West Ruislip and between Leytonstone and Epping / Hainault via Newbury Park due to train cancellations, according to TfL.

Surrey residents treating M25 closure 'like lockdown'

Friday 15 March 2024 19:52 , Daniel Keane

Surrey residents are treating the closure of a stretch of the M25 “like a Covid lockdown”, a local councillor has said.

A five-mile stretch of the London orbital, between junctions 10 and 11 in Surrey, is to close in both directions from 9pm on Friday until 6am on Monday so a bridge can be demolished and lanes extended.

Cllr Daryl Jordan, in Byfleet, said: “Basically they’ve slaughtered us in the area, they’ve dumped it on us and we’re suffering.

'I’m expecting to see absolute gridlock this weekend – everybody I know, and I’ve been in this area for years, has said they’ve been shopping already, they haven’t made any plans and if anything it will be like Covid lockdown and people will be walking the canals and what’s left of our greenbelt.

“It’s wrong, they’ve taken two days of our lives away – two days when we’re off work.”

Airport passengers urged to allow extra time for journeys due to M25 disruption

Friday 15 March 2024 20:20 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

The M25 closure this weekend is due to affect passengers travelling to and from the UK’s two busiest airports, Heathrow and Gatwick.

Heathrow Airport is advising passengers travelling through the area affected by the closure to allow extra time for their journeys.

"Passengers using public transport should also be aware that The Airline (between Heathrow and Gatwick) and RailAir (RA2), will be running amended timetables over this weekend, please check with your operator for the latest information," it said in a statement, Sky News reports.

A London Gatwick Airport spokesperson told Sky News: "Passengers driving to the airport are advised to check diversion routes before they travel and allow extra time for potential delays.”

The spokesperson urged people to consider travelling to Gatwick by train.

M25 closure time of 9pm is rapidly approaching...

Friday 15 March 2024 20:45 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

We are rapidly approaching the scheduled closure time of 9pm.

From then until 6am on Monday, the M25 is going to be totally shut between junctions 10 and 11.

It’s an unprecedented closure - the first planned daytime closure of the motorway in 38 years, since it opened in 1986 - and it’s predicted it will cause major chaos on the roads.

For full details of the closure and what to expect, read our wrap here.

M25 shuts in both directions between junctions 10 and 11, until Monday

Friday 15 March 2024 21:31 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

The M25 has now shut between junctions 10 and 11 9pm, and is to remain closed until 6am on Monday.

Business owners tell of disruption caused by M25 closure

Friday 15 March 2024 21:46 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Business owners in the areas along the M25 diversion route have told of cuts they have made to their services in anticipation of this weekend’s disruption.

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.

“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.

“It was a bit of a disappointment,” she said

“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.”

'Significant' delays expected throughout weekend amid first-ever planned daytime M25 closure

Friday 15 March 2024 22:01 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Coverage ends

Friday 15 March 2024 22:31 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Here ends the Standard’s travel live blog for today.

We’ll be back tomorrow, bringing you all you need to know about the M25 closure and other travel issues affecting the London area this weekend.

Until then, you can read our full wrap on the M25 closure here.