Highways England makes significant progress with its Strategic Road Network vision

by | Oct 6, 2017 | News

Highways England was created from the then Highways Agency by the Infrastructure Act in 2015. As a government-owned company, we were tasked with responsibility for developing, delivering, and managing the UK’s Strategic Road Network. Two and a half years into our first Road Investment Period, we are making significant progress in improving England’s road network and our customers’ journey experiences. Our current road enhancements are unlocking huge economic, social and environmental benefits. Our second Road Investment Period (2020 – 2025) agenda continues that mission.

Road Investment Period 1 – Delivery achievements

We are fully committed to delivering the Government’s investment programme to improve the UK’s road network. To-date, we have delivered almost £4bn worth of capital investments bringing more than £10bn of benefits. During our second year, we have completed 12 schemes on or ahead of schedule, adding over 120 lane miles of capacity. 

Safety, customer service and delivery remain at the heart of our strategy. We are striving to help to achieve the Government’s target to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our network by 40% by 2020.

Likewise, we are doing our best to ensure customers enjoy safe journeys with fast, reliable journey times and with minimum disruption. For example, we aim to keep roadworks scheme lengths to a maximum of 10 miles or shorter. We have also begun to trial higher speed limits throughout road networks (55mph and 60 mph) to improve the flow of traffic and the driver experience without compromising safety. Smart Motorways are another road enhancement that increase capacity, reduce congestion and decrease journey times.

With major roadworks schemes, we are improving signage and journey time information on variable message signs. We are also collaborating with the Department of Transport for London and Kent County Council to create a digital connected corridor along the A2 and the M2. This corridor will enable road users to send and receive information about road conditions, traffic and weather from their vehicles and it is the pilot for our vision of a connected intelligent strategic road network. 

The Government has also announced our plans to construct a twin-bored tunnel of around 1.8m (2.9km) where the A303 passes Stonehenge, coupled with a dual carriageway bypass for Winterbourne Stoke. This scheme is part of a £2bn investment in the South West’s strategic road network that will improve connectivity and ease congestion on this key route linking London, the South West and the rest of the country. We believe it will support 1,300 jobs and provide a step change boost to productivity.

Throughout, we aim to invest public money wisely and to deliver real value for our customers and tax payers. Our £11bn of investment includes schemes that will increase capacity, transform connectivity, improve the condition of the network and support the nation’s economy. In Road Investment Period 1, we are targeting at least £1.2 billion of efficiency savings and will expect to continue that efficient working in Road Investment Period 2.

Evolving capabilities

Our increased commitments mean we are continuously improving our capacity and capabilities. To manage our current and forthcoming challenges, we have brought in experienced staff from outside of the company and are developing collaborative relationships with our suppliers. We are also building trust with our stakeholders from the freight industry through to local communities impacted by our works.

Road Investment Period 2 (2020 to 2025) – Delivery agenda

In planning ahead, we have engaged directly with diverse stakeholders with a view to designing road enhancements that respond to the needs of road users and broader stakeholders and provide a strong foundation for the future. As a part of this, we intend to roll out best practices across the strategic roads network. 

Jim O’Sullivan is Chief Executive at Highways England.


  • Jim O’Sullivan is delivering the opening address within the Highways UK Conference which runs at NEC Birmingham on 8/9 November. Within his presentation Jim will expand further, among other things upon progress in RIS1 and preparation for RIS2.




Jim O'Sullivan

Jim O’Sullivan – Chief Executive, Highways England