ORR’s first annual assessment of Highways England: Good start to delivery but future planning needs focus

14 July 2016

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has published its first annual performance assessment of Highways England, the government-owned company responsible for England’s strategic road network.

The report found that Highways England has made a good start on delivering £15 billion of investment in England’s strategic road network by 2020-21. The company now needs to implement a more robust internal planning process to make sure that future targets are met.

Laid in Parliament yesterday, the Annual Assessment of Highways England’s Performance April 2015 – March 2016, found that:

  • There has been a reduction in the number of people killed and seriously injured over the last year, but continued focus is needed to achieve the target of a 40% reduction by 2020.
  • Highways England has exceeded its targets for maintaining network availability, clearing motorway incidents, and maintaining the quality of the road surface.
  • Highways England has spent in line with its funding in 2015-16.
  • It has also progressed its environmental strategies and plans, including publishing its biodiversity action plan.

Over the next year, Highways England needs to:

  • Improve the robustness of its plans for capital investment delivery, and its capability for portfolio, programme and project management.
  • Improve data quality, transparency of its plans and performance, and begin planning for the next Road Investment Strategy, covering the period 2020-2025.
In its first year, Highways England has achieved its performance targets and is on track with its investment plan. However, the majority of delivery targets have been set for later in the five year funding period, Joanna Whittington, Chief Executive, Office of Rail and Road said.
Highways England has more work to do to demonstrate how it will ensure delivery of its capital investment plan, which ramps up in later years.
The company needs to be clear about how it will manage some specific risks, such as those associated with the availability of a skilled workforce and capacity of the supply chain to deliver.

Notes to editors

  1. The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) is the UK’s rail regulator and highways monitor for England. ORR protects the interests of rail and road users; improving the safety, value and performance of railways and roads, today and in the future. Follow us @railandroad.
  2. Highways England is the government-owned company which manages the motorways and main A roads in England (the strategic road network). Their annual report, presented to Parliament yesterday, can be found on gov.uk.
  3. ORR’s Annual Assessment of Highways England’s Performance April 2015 – March 2016 full report and summary can be found on our website, orr.gov.uk/highways-monitor/publications/highways-monitor-annual-assessment-of-highways-englands-performance.