ORR’s annual report has found Highways England met all targets in its key performance indicators for providing fast and reliable journeys and maintaining the network – all achieved as the company faced a set of extraordinary circumstances with the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19).
At the end of 2020-21 the company achieved;
- 98% network availability against a target of 97.5%;
- cleared 88.6% of incidents within one hour against a target of 86%;
- achieved an average delay of 6.7 seconds per vehicle mile, much lower than the baseline of 9.5 seconds per vehicle mile; and
- reported that 95.2% of the road surface did not need further investigation for possible maintenance, against a target of 95%.
But ORR’s report also shows that although there has been good progress in delivering enhancement projects in year one, there have been delays to some large projects due to start work later in the road period.
These are due in part to planning delays, which ORR recognises is a complex issue, but there are significant risks remaining and ORR wants Highways England to focus on how these risks can be mitigated to make sure the remainder of the Road Investment Strategy is delivered on time and to budget.
ORR launched a joint review with Highways England to look at its capability to deliver enhancements, and the company has committed to providing ORR with a plan setting out how it will address recommendations.
ORR’s annual assessment also highlights that Highways England maintained a strong focus on safety, but it must continue to deliver on safety and specifically on the safety-focused changes to the smart motorway programme mandated by the Department for Transport.
Highways England is also being required to provide assurance to ORR, road users and to the wider public about how it will appropriately factor in the environment, support biodiversity, and lead on the broader decarbonisation of the road network in line with Government’s recently-published Transport Decarbonisation Plan.
ORR has pushed the company to set challenging targets in this area and will hold it to account to achieve those targets.
John Larkinson, Office of Rail and Road Chief Executive, said:
Notes to editors
- Annual Assessment of Highways England
- ORR is responsible for monitoring and enforcing the performance and efficiency of Highways England. ORR holds Highways England to account for its management of the strategic road network. ORR also advises the UK Government on the levels of funding and performance requirements for future road periods to help frame challenging and deliverable performance and efficiency requirements.
- It is part of ORR’s job to report on Highways England’s progress in delivering this investment, on budget and to time.
- ORR does not regulate the safety of the Strategic Road Network in the same way as we do for the railways. However, we monitor performance indicators related to safety that form part of Highways England’s overall performance monitoring framework.