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Road and rail risk audit ordered after M1 closure

19 April 11 00:01
M1 closure at Mill Hill on 15 April 2011

An audit of road and railways at possible risk from industrial accidents has been ordered after the scrapyard fire that caused major M1 disruption.

Friday's blaze under an elevated section in north London saw lanes closed between junctions 1 and 4.

The Highways Agency and Network Rail are to provide details of all sites where activities below or near roads and railways take place.

The Department for Transport will compile a report in the next six weeks.

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.

"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."

The review could affect many businesses operating close to motorways and stretches of railway.

Mr Hammond said: "It is vital that we quickly identify any action that needs to be taken to protect our critical transport infrastructure."

'Miracle escape'

The Highways Agency is responsible for roads in England while Network Rail looks after the rail network across Britain.

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

The closures over the weekend came as thousands of football fans descended on the capital for the FA Cup semi-finals and London staged its annual marathon.

Two lanes are now running on both carriageways along the affected seven-mile stretch of the M1.

Steel pillars have been put up beneath a bridge which was badly damaged when the scrapyard fire caused concrete to explode. Engineers said it was a "miracle" the bridge had not collapsed because of the extent of the fire damage.

The Highways Agency said construction work on the bridge support was ongoing along with an assessment of other possible remedial works and warned drivers that delays could continue.

Motorists have been advised to check the Highways Agency website for the latest traffic information.

Damage and repair to the M1

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