The Highways Agency in the UK has opened the first section of the M1 managed motorway between junctions 11 and 10 near Luton, to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion.

The three mile stretch of the managed motorway has been opened in both the directions to relieve traffic pressure on the M1 motorway.

Roads Minister Mike Penning said: "It will help to provide additional lane capacity at a time when we expect to see a significant increase in the number of journeys on our roads."

Highways Agency project manager Lynne Stinson said the first phase of managed motorway is now available to road users earlier than planned and ahead of the London 2012 Games.

"Work elsewhere on the managed motorway scheme is progressing very well and we’re on target to fully complete the scheme in spring 2013."

The agency is working on the stretch between junctions 11 and 13, to further increase the movement of vehicles on the busy motorway.

The M1 managed motorway will control the flow of traffic using variable speed limits, create more capacity with the hard shoulder for the vehicles and reduce congestion during peak hours.

The agency has advised drivers to follow the overhead signs and signals, and to only use the hard shoulder in emergencies.