Press releases

Highways England off to a good start

3 December 2015

Content archived on 04 December 2023

Archive date
02 July 2021

Highways England is exceeding its targets on keeping lanes open and clearing up incidents quickly, supporting the smooth flow of traffic. The road surface on motorways and main 'A' roads is also being well maintained.

The ORR however says that Highways England needs to push ahead with plans to improve safety performance on the strategic roads – tackling the engineering challenges as well as influencing the behaviour of the drivers on the network. It also needs to provide a clearer picture of how they will deliver planned improvements to motorways and ‘A’ roads.

This is the first review of Highways England’s performance that ORR has published since it took responsibility for monitoring in April 2015.

ORR's Highways director, Peter Antolik, said:

Highways England has made a positive start, especially given the ambitious programme of improvements to the strategic road network that will see over £15 billion invested for the benefit of road users.
In its first six months since taking responsibility for managing the strategic road network, it has got to grips with its changed role and is performing well in key areas of improving the country’s strategic roads.
This, our first report as Highways Monitor, shows the progress Highways England has made in delivering better roads for drivers and the better infrastructure the economy needs. We particularly welcome the emphasis the company is placing on taking into account the views of their customers.
However, in some areas more is needed. The company needs to focus on improving safety on its roads, and to be clearer on the detail of some of the major road improvements that are planned.
We’re working with the company to address these issues over the coming months. Our first annual review of Highways England’s performance will report on progress next summer.

Notes to editors

  1. The Office of Rail and Road is the UK’s independent economic and safety rail regulator as well as the independent strategic roads monitor for England.
  2. ORR’s six-month review of the performance of Highways England is published here:
  3. ORR's monitoring role for strategic roads primarily focuses on:
    1. Monitoring how well Highways England is delivering on its targets;
    2. Considering enforcement action on Highways England if there are problems, and;
    3. Advising the Secretary of State for Transport on the development of the next Road Investment Strategy and other relevant highways issues.
  4. A summary of Highways England’s key performance indicators (KPIs) can be found at
    Key elements include:
    1. On lane availability, Highways England is exceeding its target of 97%.
    2. On clearing incidents, Highways England is exceeding its target of clearing 85% of incidents within one hour.
    3. On pavement condition, the company is exceeding its target of 95% of pavement not requiring further investigation for possible maintenance.
    4. Highways England has a target to reduce the numbers of people killed or seriously injured (KSI) on the network by 40% by the end of 2020. However, there was an 8.4% increase in total KSI numbers this year, though the numbers also showed a 13.5% reduction in the number of people killed. The increase in the KSI numbers represents a risk to hitting the main target.
    5. On capital expenditure, Highways England has to meet a total saving target of at least £1.212bn  by 2018-20.
  5. Last year the Government announced a £15bn roads investment plan for England's strategic road network between 2015-16 and 2020-21 (£11bn for the first five-year Roads Investment Period).
  6. To support this significant investment programme, the Highways Agency was replaced on 1 April 2015 by a government-owned company, Highways England, with specific performance requirements to deliver over the funding period set by the Government.  From the same date, ORR assumed responsibility for the independent monitoring of Highways England's management of the strategic road network to ensure it meets its performance and efficiency targets.
  7. The Highways Monitor’s twitter feed is @highways_monitor. ORR’s Highways News by email list can be subscribed to here: