UK Government

Highways Agency: Variable speed limits to improve journeys on the M25 in Surrey

Press Release   •   Nov 16, 2010 11:45 GMT

A congestion-tackling scheme to provide road users with more reliable, safer journeys on the M25 is to be extended, the Highways Agency announced today.

The Controlled Motorway scheme, already in place between junctions 10 and 16, will be rolled-out to a 2.7 mile section of the M25 east of junction 10 near Wisley, in Surrey.

Controlled motorways use variable mandatory speed limits to smooth out traffic during busy times, reduce frustrating stop-start congestion and cut the risk of accidents.

The Highways Agency starts work this week on the extension.

Tim Lyver, M25 performance manager said:

“The Controlled Motorway system will bring real benefits for drivers on this busy section of the M25 - helping to reduce congestion and make drivers' journeys safer and more reliable by smoothing traffic flows.

"The system is already being used successfully on the M25 between junctions 10 and 16 and parts of the M20 in Kent and M42 in the West Midlands. It has encouraged drivers to keep within the speed limits to provide smoother, more reliable journeys during peak times and reduced the frequency of collisions.”

The system uses sensors in the road surface to detect the speed, volume and flow of traffic. It then calculates the optimum speed to keep traffic moving and reducing the level of stop-start traffic that leads to congestion. Drivers see the current speed limit displayed on electronic signals on the overhead gantries.

As part of the extension, eight new gantries will be installed, with four removed and four more upgraded. The work will also upgrade the roadside traffic technology, helping the Highways Agency to monitor conditions and provide real-time traffic information to the public.

From tomorrow (Tuesday 16 November), the hard shoulder on the M25 near junction 10 will be closed while work is carried out at the side of the road, with a 50mph speed limit in place. Next week, narrow lanes will be installed on both sides of the road, and will remain in place until next April.

Work on installing the new gantries will begin in January 2011 and is expected to be complete in May, with variable speed limits being introduced on the new section later in the year.

The Highways Agency plans to further roll-out the scheme to junction 7 (the M25 the interchange with the M23), subject to funding.

Plans to introduce a Controlled Motorway on the M25 Junction 7-10 went to public consultation last year and the Highways Agency response is published online today.

Notes to editors

1. The Highways Agency is an executive agency of the Department for Transport. We manage, maintain and improve England’s motorways and trunk roads on behalf of the Secretary of State.

2. The contract for this phase of the work, valued at £12m, has been awarded to Carillion plc in through a Highways Agency framework.

3. The work will require up to 15 overnight closures of the M25 between junctions 9 and 10 as gantries are replaced, and at the beginning and end of the work as traffic management is installed and removed. The first set of closures will be overnight on Monday 22 November (clockwise) and Tuesday 23 November (anti-clockwise) while narrow lanes are installed. Dates of future closures will be announced as soon as possible.

4. The consultation response document is available at:

5. We plan maintenance and improvement projects carefully to allow works to be completed safely, in a cost effective way while keeping disruption to road users to a minimum. We do as much work as possible overnight and when roads are less busy in order to keep more lanes open for road users at peak travel times. Drivers are advised to check their route for road works and allow extra time for their journeys where needed. We have a variety of journey planning tools that road users can use to check travel conditions on the roads we manage, and we will do all we can to keep road users informed.

6. Real-time traffic information for England’s motorways and major A roads is available:
- From our Traffic Radio service, available on DAB digital radio and the internet To tune into the DAB service, simply press the "scan" button on your radio. The radio will tune into all available channels and you can select the new service by scrolling through the channels until you reach "Traffic Radio".
- From the web at or if using a phone or mobile device. 
Before using any mobile, find a safe place to park. Never stop on the hard shoulder of a motorway except in an emergency. Make sure it’s safe and legal before you call.
- By phone from the Highways Agency 24-hour voice activated phone service on 08700 660 115. (Calls from BT residential landlines to 0870 numbers will cost no more than 8p per minute; call charges from other landlines and mobile networks may vary).

5. For more general information about the Highways Agency and its work, visit the Highways Agency website, or telephone the Highways Agency Information Line on 0300 123 5000 at any time (Calls to 0300 numbers will cost no more than 5p per minute from a standard BT residential landline. Call charges from other landlines and mobile networks may vary, but will be no more than a standard geographic call and will be included in all inclusive minutes and discount schemes).

Safety at roadworks

The Highways Agency is working with the industry and road users to reduce the risks of working on the roads. For the safety of road workers and all road users, when you are approaching roadworks:

- Keep within the speed limit – it is there for your safety.
- Get into the correct lane in good time – don’t keep switching.
- Concentrate on the road ahead, not the roadworks.
- Be alert for works’ traffic leaving or entering roadworks.
- Keep a safe distance – there could be queues in front.
- Observe all signs – they are there to help you.

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Issued by the Highways Agency South East press office. 



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