National Highways, the UK Government-owned company responsible for operating, maintaining, and improving England’s motorways and major A roads, has released its initial report on the third investment period of 2025-30.
The Strategic Road Network Initial Report for 2025-30 outlines National Highways’ advice to the Government on priorities for England’s 4,500-mile strategic road network (SRN) for the looming five-year period and beyond.
With the SRN carrying approximately four million vehicles a day, connecting people and businesses to all the country’s major ports and airports, the report states that continued funding is required in order to support safe and efficient use of the roads.
An increasing focus on proactively maintaining the existing road network
The National Highways report said that the organisation’s work was likely to concentrate to a greater degree on making the most of the existing SRN through proactive maintenance and improvement works.
This, the company said, would allow for enhanced safety and journey reliability, which in turn, would assist in promoting economic prosperity.
Also covered in the report were the challenges faced by the increasingly busy roads. The company pointed out that most of the country’s motorways date to the 1960s and ‘70s, and are now in need of extensive renewal, at a time when increased exposure to severe weather is forcing the organisation to pay particular attention to ensuring the maintenance of appropriate performance and safety levels.
What is the significance of the Initial Report for Government?
The Department for Transport (DfT) has opened an eight-week consultation on the Initial Report. This process will assist in revising National Highways’ proposals, as well as determining the allocation of funds for 2025-30, which has not yet been finalised.
The Initial Report was published alongside National Highways’ long-term strategic plan, entitled Connecting the Country. This document provides information on the organisation’s priorities for the network up to 2050. It is anticipated that in this longer-term view, there will continue to be strong demand for roads from zero-emission vehicles, as part of a seamlessly integrated transport system.
In what will make interesting reading for many transport consultants,the Initial Report contains the following proposals, which will depend on future Government funding decisions:
• A sustained focus on safety, including an aim to lower fatalities and serious injuries through interventions such as targeted upgrades to single carriageway A roads
• Heightened investment in small local schemes, defined as those with a value of between £2 million and £25 million
• Giving road users access to a greater amount of real-time and personalised information, including in relation to congestion, ongoing incidents, and planned roadworks
• A greater focus on improving journey experiences
• Supporting the installation of approximately 2,500 open-access rapid charge points for electric vehicles on the network by the end of this decade
• Investing further in infrastructure for non-motorised users such as walkers, cyclists, and horse riders
• Increasing proactive maintenance – maintenance that is designed to resolve problems before they emerge – with the aim of reducing network disruption and the need for substantial repairs
• Maximising opportunities to support diversity through initiatives such as the planting of an extra three million trees up to 2030
National Highways further said that, “crucially”, it would propose continuing to take sustained action to reduce carbon emissions at every opportunity.
It said that as a company, its own corporate emissions would be reduced to net zero by 2030, without the use of purchased offsetting.
The organisation added that by the end of this decade, maintenance and construction emissions would be lowered by as much as 50% through the minimisation of new works and the use of lean construction practices and carbon management approaches.
Ask the Transport Planning Associates team for help with your upcoming project
There is certainly much for transport consultants up and down the UK to absorb in National Highways’ new plan, as important decisions continue to be made on infrastructure projects around the country.
To learn more about how our transport planning and infrastructure design professionals can assist in your efforts to realise the outcomes you desire from your projects, please don’t hesitate to contact our consultancy.