UK traffic latest updates: Drivers facing weekend travel chaos as stretch of M1 motorway closes

The main north-south motorway is closed for the weekend

Congestion on the M1 motorway. Simon Calder explains

Traffic is at a standstill around one of the key stretches of Britain’s motorway network, which is expected to remain shut until 3pm on Sunday afternoon.

The M1 is closed between Junctions 23A and 24 in northern Leicestershire near East Midlands airport. According to the AA, vehicles are queueing on the diversion routes and there are severe delays of 18 minutes and delays increasing on A453 southbound.

The short stretch of motorway is one of the pinch points on the network. Junction 23a is where the A42 north-east from Birmingham joins the M1, while junction 24 is the main link into the south of Nottingham as well as the start of the busy A50 heading west to Staffordshire.

Highways England is turning these few miles of the M1 into “a smart motorway” — a project aimed at squeezing a quart into the pint pot of Britain’s road network by enabling greater use of the available capacity.

The hard shoulder is used in what is called “all lane running”, with dynamic speed limits to avoid frustrating start-stop motoring.

Research by Highways England shows journeys are faster and more reliable, and both the quantity and severity of accidents is reduced, compared with ordinary motorways.

The work this weekend involves a road bridge, which is part of the new Kegworth bypass.

Red alert: A satellite map of the M1 in northern Leicestershire showing the closed stretch of motorway

As with Network Rail line closures, Highways England tries to inconvenience the lowest number of travellers. But the closure was planned before the matches for the end-of-season football play-offs were known.

Many football fans are on the move from Exeter to Lincoln, from the Birmingham area for Aston Villa’s match at Middlesbrough, and from Nottingham to Coventry for County’s match on Saturday afternoon — all of which would normally use the closed stretch of motorway.

Passengers using East Midlands airport, immediately west of the road works, are advised “to travel in good time to allow for possible delays”.

The normal Skylink services from Nottingham, Derby and Leicester are being diverted.

Megabus and National Express coach services are being affected. Diversionary routes, including the A1/A1(M) and A38, are expected to be busier than normal. The AA is warning of delays southbound on the A38 near Derby.

Closures of either or both carriageways of the M1 in the area of this weekend’s work will continue intermittently until Friday 18 May.

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