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Government orders transport risk audit

The government has ordered an audit of road and railways that could be at risk of industrial accident after a scrapyard fire brought gridlock to thousands of commuters on the M1.

Friday’s blaze under an elevated motorway section near London resulted in lanes being closed between junctions 1 and 4 over the weekend as football fans travelled to Wembley for two FA Cup semi-finals and runners travelled to the London Marathon.

This afternoon, two lanes were running on both carriageways along the 11.3km stretch.

Transport secretary Philip Hammond said: “It is crucial that we learn the lessons from this hugely disruptive event and ensure that we minimise the risk of something similar happening again.

“I have, therefore, asked the chief executives of the Highways Agency and Network Rail in the first instance to provide me with a report on potential sources of risk to the strategic transport networks from activities below roads and railways, or on adjacent sites.

“As well as identifying sources and categories of risk, the report will detail the options currently available for managing those risks, identify any gaps and make recommendations about how these should be filled.

“I have asked for the initial report to be produced within the next six weeks as it is vital that we quickly identify any action that needs to be taken to protect our critical transport infrastructure.”

Hammond added that Highways Agency staff had “worked tirelessly around the clock to reopen the motorway”.

But motorists could face more delays during the Easter getaway if a contraflow with three lanes is not implemented in time.

Many businesses operating close to motorways and stretches of railway could be affected by recommendations made in the review.

The Highways Agency said construction work on the bridge support continues, along with an assessment of what other remedial works are needed.

It warned drivers that delays could continue and to consider alternative routes.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Here we go! Knee-jerk reactions to the fore. Whilst this has been an accident waiting to happen - it has been waiting a very long time. Losing one horse out of one barn does not mean that all horses should be removed from all barns and all barn doors locked, bolted and nailed shut - leaving the horses outside in the cold.

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