help relieve congestion on Europe's busiest motorway, was today
officially launched by transport minister John Spellar.
25,000 heavy goods vehicles, even a minor accident can bring traffic
to a halt very quickly. Queues can build up at a rate of a mile a
Now two distinctive fleets of vehicles are on 24-hour standby to
solve problems on the M25 and adjoining roads, or the M25 Sphere.
This is a joint initiative by the Highways Agency, Mouchel and
Carillion to improve services for road users over the next five
Also, for the first time, the 117-mile motorway is being managed as a
single route by a single team. This will ensure a consistent approach
to programming roadworks, incident response and liaison with the
The new fleets are working in partnership to assist the emergency
services to clear and re-open roads as rapidly as possible after an
incident. Each has a specialised role on the network.
Route stewards, from Mouchel, will monitor traffic conditions, review
traffic management and attend serious incidents with the police to
assess damage and the remedial works required to repair the network
and identify when a road is safe to be re-opened. They will also
report back to the Highways Agency on network conditions in effect
being the 'eyes and ears' of the agency.
Sixteen incident support units, operated by Carillion, are ready to
be on site within 20 minutes of a call-out from the route stewards or
emergency services via an M25 call centre. Their locations will be
monitored through an electronic tracking system, with vehicles
carrying the necessary equipment to carry out emergency maintenance
Inspecting the new vehicles Mr Spellar said:
'As every motorist knows, removing obstructions from the road is
vital to traffic flow. With over 200,000 vehicles a day using the
busiest sections of the M25, being able to clear incidents quickly is
essential to keep traffic moving on this important route.
'I welcome the innovation of the M25 Sphere team and its commitment
to provide safer and more reliable travel. Finding new ways to reduce
congestion and improve safety on our busiest roads is a major
priority under the government's 10 year plan.'
The six police forces that routinely patrol the M25 have formed an
integrated policing group which is working with the Highways Agency
to develop guidelines for responding to incidents on the motorway.
Highways Agency chief executive Tim Matthews said:
'This is another good example of how the Highways Agency is adopting
new approaches to road management in order to improve services on the
most congested parts of the network.'
1. The M25 Sphere is a new term for the Highways Agency's Area 5
which incorporates 530 kilometres of motorways and trunk roads,
including the entire M25 ring.
2. Mouchel was awarded the contract for Managing Agent of Area 5 in
June 2001, while Carillion Highway Maintenance Limited was
appointed as Term Maintenance Contractor. The estimated annual
value of the contracts are£4m and£20m respectively and both are
for five years, effective from 1 September.
3. M25 IPG was established in September 2000 with the aim of better
co-ordinating policing of the M25. Membership includes officers of
ACPO rank from all the six M25 forces (Kent, Surrey, Thames Valley,
Hertfordshire, Essex and the Metropolitan Police Service), as well
as the Highways Agency. A core team comprises both police and
4. For travel information contact the Highways Agency information
line (HAIL) on 08457 504030, open from 8am-8pm Monday
to Friday and 9am-5pm weekends and bank holidays, or visit the
Highways Agency website.
5. The Highways Agency is an executive agency of the department of
transport, local government and the regions, which manages,
maintains and improves the network of trunk roads and motorways in
England on behalf of the secretary of state. It works closely with
other transport operators and with local authorities to integrate
the trunk road network with the rest of England's roads and other
forms of transport.