M6 national highways North West

Police chiefs defended their handling of the impact of the M6 crash this week which left thousands of drivers stranded for up to 12 hours on the motorway in soaring temperatures.

The incident, which resulted in the death of an HGV driver, happened northbound between junctions 17 and 18 when a lorry collided with a railway bridge.

The knock-on impact saw thousands of vehicles stranded between junctions 16 and 18 northbound.

Traffic between 17-18 was eventually turned around to get off at 17, but many between 16 and 17 were still there almost 12 hours after the accident.

Inspector Anton Sullivan, of the Cheshire Constabulary Roads and Crime Unit, said it was “complex situation”.

He said: “While we fully appreciate the frustration of motorists who were delayed as a result of the collision, the safety of the public remains our top priority.

“In this instance, officers attended the scene and were greeted with a complex situation where a HGV driver had sadly died after the vehicle he was driving collided with a railway bridge.

“The vehicle was embedded into the structure, causing a large amount of debris and significant structural damage to a major railway bridge.

“Due to concerns over possible structural damage, police and highways officers were left with no option but to close the northbound carriageway of the motorway and the railway line until a full structural assessment had taken place.

crash scene on M6
crash scene on M6

“This work could not begin until the collision investigation and recovery work had been completed.

“As soon as the closure was in place, officers began an operation to clear all of the trapped traffic between junctions 17 and 18 as quickly and safely as possible.

“This work involved turning around more than a thousand vehicles to allow them to exit at junction 17. This was completed by 1.15pm.

“Warning messages were put in place on all strategic roads within a 90-mile radius of the incident to advise motorists of the incident and urging them to avoid the area.

“Sadly, while we always endeavour to free traffic as quickly as possible, the M6 is the main arterial route through Cheshire and is used by approximately 100,000 motorists everyday, so any closures will result in unavoidable delays on the road network across the county.”

Following the collision lanes 3 and 4 reopened at around 11pm on September 7 – 15 hours after accident occurred – once it was deemed safe for motorists.

Lanes 1 and 2 remain closed at this time while Network Rail undertake urgent repair work to the bridge.

Enquiries in relation to the incident are ongoing and officers are keen to hear from anyone who witnessed the collision, or anyone with any CCTV or dashcam footage which may aid the investigation.

Anyone with any information is asked to call Cheshire police on 101, or visit www.cheshire.police.uk/tua quoting IML 1079063.

(Images courtesy of National Highways North West)


  1. William White says:

    Millions of pounds spent on so called smart motorways, why hasn’t anybody thought to put a break on the centre reservation to elevate traffic problems between northbound and southbound, removable for incidents such as this, that way keeps traffic moving in both directions???

    • Excellent point William, a break could have been made at a given point before the incident then returned after the incident its not rocket science

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