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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 February 2006, 19:21 GMT
M-way closure causes travel chaos
M11 fire
The recovery van was carrying gas cylinders. Photo Paul Wood
Thousands of motorists were stuck in traffic jams for up to four hours on Saturday after a section of the M11 was closed following a van blaze.

Many air passengers on their way to Stansted Airport became trapped in tailbacks. Some missed flights.

Essex Police have warned that the busy section of the M11 between London and Stansted will not reopen until Sunday.

The van, sent to assist a broken-down lorry, was carrying gas cylinders when it caught fire in the early hours.

The blaze led to the closure of the motorway in both directions between junctions six and seven.

Missed flights

Diversions in place north of the M11 eased congestion but southbound was more seriously affected with tailbacks for about ten miles, according to reports.

The Stansted Express train from London to the airport was cancelled this weekend for track maintenance and a replacement bus service could not run because of the closure.

It is disappointing that people are missing flights, but the airlines are doing their best to get them to their destinations
Stansted Airport spokesman

A spokesman for Stansted Airport said up to 500 people had missed their flights but he added that no flights had been delayed because of the problems.

"We have still got passengers turning up late and missing their flights and they are queueing up at the ticket desks to get rebooked on later flights," he said.

"It is disappointing that people are missing flights, but the airlines are doing their best to get them to their destinations."

A spokesman for the Highways Agency said there had been reports of motorists stuck in queues for up to four hours.

"It is quite a long stretch between junctions eight and seven," he said.

"When you have got the best part of eight miles of traffic in three lanes trying to get off onto the local roads, you are going to get heavy congestion."





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