The consultation sets out ORR’s strategic objective on securing improved performance and value for money from the strategic road network, and explains how ORR will hold Highways England to account.
Last year the UK government announced a £15bn roads investment plan for England’s strategic roads network between 2015-16 and 2020-21. Through the Infrastructure Act 2015, reforms have also been made to the structure of the roads sector to support this significant investment programme.
From 1st April 2015, the Highways Agency will be replaced by a government-owned company, Highways England, with specific performance requirements and investments to deliver over the five year funding period. ORR, previously just the Office of Rail Regulation, now takes on responsibility for the independent monitoring of Highways England’s management of the strategic road network to ensure it meets its performance and efficiency targets.
The government has set Highways England specific performance targets including making the network safer; minimising disruption from road works and incidents; delivering better environmental outcomes; and increasing the capacity of the network. ORR has to ensure that Highways England delivers its plan to improve the performance and efficiency of the strategic road network to benefit road users and the wider public. ORR will monitor Highways England’s progress and publish annual assessments of its operational and financial performance.
ORR’s monitoring role for strategic roads primarily focuses on:
- monitoring how well Highways England is delivering on its targets;
- considering enforcement action to drive improvements if there are delivery problems; and
- advising the secretary of state on the development of the next Road Investment Strategy and other relevant issues.
ORR highways director Peter Antolik said: “We are looking forward to working with stakeholders as we develop our new highways monitoring function. Our focus is on putting in place a highly effective monitoring regime to track Highways England’s performance against its Roads Investment Strategy and the delivery of clear benefits for all road users.
“This is an exciting time for ORR as the new role builds on our skills and expertise as the independent economic and safety regulator for the railways. It also enables greater synergies between the two sectors as we share our knowledge and experience in vital areas such as asset management, engineering and performance assessment.”