The M25, as much a feature of England’s capital as Wembley’s arch, the London Eye or Tower Bridge, has reached the milestone of being operational for 30 years.
Officially opened by Margaret Thatcher on October 29, 1986, the 117-mile stretch of road has catered to the needs of millions of commuters, holiday-goers and hauliers for three decades, allowing them to avoid the narrow and tricky to navigate streets of London.
Spanning five counties – Kent, Surrey, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex – and encircling all of Greater London (with the exception of North Ockendon), it is Europe's second longest orbital road, coming in behind only the Berliner Ring, which is 122 miles long.
The motorway, as integral to the lives of millions of Britons as smartphones, HD television and internet shopping, and arguably as revolutionary as the UK’s rail network and the London Underground, has now been open for 10,958 consecutive days, and has for the vast majority of that time been required to cope with around twice the number of vehicles it was initially designed to deal with.
Each day approximately 150,000 vehicles venture on to the M25, a number which far exceeds the 88,000 vehicles it was intended to tolerate when the road first opened. On particularly busy days the number of vehicles on the motorway has been known to swell to around 200,000 – almost two and a half times more than its original capacity.