Traffic crawled into London today as the opening of the first Olympic Games lane coincided with an accident on the M4 and a suicide on one of the country’s key railway lines to create the ‘perfect storm’ of travel chaos.

Traffic crawled into London today as the opening of the first Olympic Games lane coincided with an accident on the M4 to create the 'perfect storm' of travel chaos leading to 32 mile queues.

Photo: Michael Bowles/Rex Features

Traffic crawled into London today as the first of the Olympic Games lanes came into force on the M4.

Experts had already warned it would create ‘the perfect storm’ should there be an accident or breakdown. Later in the day the West Coast Main Line linking London and the North West was completely blocked in Hertfordshire for more than half an hour following a suicide at Hemel Hempstead

At one point the queue on the M4 started as far back as the A34 – about 32 miles from the start of the Games Lane, as traffic funnelling from three lanes into two was also held up by an accident near junction 11 close to Maidenhead.

According to the Highways Agency website, drivers west of Maidenhead faced delays of up to half an hour as a result of the crash.

There was some respite for motorists before they were confronted by the first of the Olympics Games lanes to come into force, on the M4

Closer to London there were also delays as confused motorists struggled to get to grips the lane, wbich is designed to speed members of the Olympics family from Heathrow into the heart of the capital.

However the Highways Agency insisted caused by the introduction of the lane was minimal

According to the AA, motorists faced delays as they approached the lane at Heathrow, with traffic moving slowly eastwards.

However traffic moved more smoothly to the east of Heathrow especially as the early morning peak traffic evaporated.

“They have shifted the queue to the west,” said Paul Watters of the AA.

“This is the same thing as happened when the bus lane was in force.

“I think people are getting used to it and there is still some uncertainty.

“However Mondays are quieter than other days of the week and we will have to watch it closely.”

In all there are around 30 miles of dedicated Games Lanes, with the majority in central London and heading east to the Olympic Park at Stratford.

The bulk of the lanes will come into force on July 25 just ahead of the Games. Ordinary motorists – and cyclists – who use the lane face a £130 fine.

Travel experts had warned that even the slightest problem on London’s roads during the Olympics could create “the perfect storm.”

Former head of traffic at the Metropolitan Police Kevin Delaney, now head of road safety at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “The problem with the Games lanes is that London’s road network runs at, or very close to, capacity almost all day, almost every day of the year.

“Wherever the Games lanes are, they have reduced the amount of lanes for ordinary traffic. You are actually reducing the amount of road space for ordinary traffic.

“Unless everybody heeds the advice to not drive, there are problems. Imagine if there is a situation where we have a breakdown or a crash. The road network just would not cope with that.

“It would be like a perfect storm – the level of congestion that you would normally get would be magnified.

“It is because London’s road network actually operates so efficiently that if anything goes wrong it goes badly wrong.

“The best analogy I can make is the blood system in your body – it works fine until you get a clot but when you do get one it has a disproportionate effect.”

Apart from a brief respite after the Olympics, they will remain in force until early September and the conclusion of the Paralympics.

There are fears that this could lead to gridlock in the capital. Many businesses have voiced fear of how the capital will cope, especially restaurants who have been told they will have to receive food deliveries in the early hours of the morning.

Yesterday Hugh Robertson, the sports minister, said the lanes could be suspended if London grinds to a halt.

Transport for London, which is responsible for the running most of the Olympic Route Network, has said the lanes, which are in force from 6 am to midnight, will also be opened to ordinary motorists when they are not needed.

The first Games Lane is at the site of the previous M4 bus lane which operated for 3.5 miles between junctions 3 and 2 on the London-bound carriageway.

The M4 lane, which will be in operation between 5am and 10pm, is being introduced early to cope with the beginning of the big rush of Olympic arrivals starting today at nearby Heathrow airport.

The London 2012 Athletes’ Village, in Stratford, east London, also opens today with GB athletes competing in diving, equestrian, football, shooting and swimming expected to be the first to enter.

The M4 is part of the Olympic Route Network (ORN) and provides an important access route for members of the Games Family including athletes, their officials and equipment arriving at Heathrow for their journey to the Olympic Village.

Around 80 per cent of Games Family arrivals are expected to pass through this way.

Within the ORN are 30 miles of Games Lanes which will become operational on July 25 – two days before the Olympic opening ceremony.

The Games Lanes will be clearly marked and will operate alongside existing traffic. All road users will be able to go into the lanes when they are not in use overnight.

Those who stray into operational Games Lanes face a penalty charge of £130, while illegally parked vehicles will be removed to a pound and may incur a release fee of £200.