It’s time to get to grips with digital

It’s time to get to grips with digital

Author: Lesley Waud – Transport Design Development Director, SNC-Lavalin Atkins

Lesley Waud

By people, I really mean a culture and a mindset: a perception by many that doing things ‘digitally’ is a threat to long-held technical specialism or expertise. But I don’t see it in those terms. To me, the risk is in us not helping people embrace the benefits of using digital systems and processes in their work. As leaders, it’s up to us to empower our teams to use technology as an enabler, and it’s up to us to have the appetite and desire to show leadership as to why doing things differently now matters.

That means upskilling our workforce and helping people who may be resistant to change by providing the right support and opportunities for them to develop. It’s about reassuring them that digital transformation isn’t a threat, but an opportunity to learn new skills to equip us to face the digital future. If we don’t tackle this issue now, the discourse will continue to be dominated by those that would rather tell you all the reasons for not doing something, rather than finding ways you can – which alienates those who are eager to adopt new technology, and who are snapping at our heels to use it.

When we deploy digital processes to carry out repetitive activities it frees up our valuable time and lets us focus on what really adds value for our clients. At a recent presentation to clients, an Atkins engineer told of how he and his team had developed a simple algorithm that could come up with literally thousands of design options in a fraction of the time it would take for them to develop one design had they been using traditional, passive methods. The algorithm now helps inform their decisions at each stage of the design process – while outsourcing the time-consuming task of data processing – so that the team can dedicate more of their time to what’s important: validating the findings, assessing the best options, and improving the ultimate final design. In short, applying their expertise to the higher-value end area of the process.

Embracing digital doesn’t mean the prestige of a career in design and engineering is diminished. Today, we are fortunate that we have game-changing digital technology to support our tasks, that many before us simply haven’t had access to, so let’s capitalise on that, and use it to our advantage.

The second barrier to digital transformation within our industry is commercial models, and how they are structured; in fact, in my view this is a serious barrier to digital transformation happening at all. This is where we must start thinking very differently: we need to reshape commercial models, root and branch, a tough ask, perhaps, as many clients are still comfortable with current models based on unit cost and input of effort, as opposed to thinking how, as an industry, we might link cost instead to the value of the service. We need to redistribute value earlier in the process and capitalise on the benefit of doing so.

We need to start asking how we can create components and constituent parts of a project – supported by digital transformation – that are compatible and that can be configured more intelligently so they have a life afterwards. We need to be asking: how could we break a project down into components that allow an element of selection, for example, like choosing from a car brochure, without reverting to bespoke designs for every element, and whereby certain design elements can be reused?

Take motorway construction, for example: there’s a perception that if you have a one-size-fits-all approach, you’d be wasting material because it would be overdesigned for the majority of circumstances. But in reality, we know that we don’t necessarily save material by designing precise components for a single location due to the challenges we face on site in achieving a consistent quality in variable conditions and not using surplus materials – for example, the partial concrete load that goes to waste. By manufacturing a standardised solution, offsite, even if it’s going to be oversized in some circumstances, it will have been manufactured in a very controlled environment, and with very precise material quantities and quality control. So already, significantly less material is wasted compared with building it from scratch on-site.

However, if payment and the measurement of value is linked to time and materials, we will not recover the considerable investments we are making and will continue to make in transforming our industry.  A single standard solution that will add considerable benefit needs to have its value linked to the outcomes it enables rather than the input effort in creating and, importantly, maintaining the relevance of the product and we all need to work together to create long-term sustainable future models for our industry.

The good news is, some of our clients’ responses to the government’s agenda to do things differently and drive productivity have been very positive. We are already seeing some good, early examples of commercial models that incentivise suppliers, based on results. I believe our clients want more digital solutions to infrastructure questions, and that they want to improve productivity. But to get this right in the long term we need to get real and stop mixing old-world commercial models and behaviours with new expectations.

If we’re serious about innovative solutions, we must grasp the opportunities of working to innovative commercial models – and that means being emboldened by the transformative powers of digital technology, not threatened by it. When we do so, we will not only uphold our professional status, but it will also mean we may collectively share in the added-value of a project’s lifecycle.

Seven things we can start doing right now…

1.         See digital as a game-changer that can support traditional roles

2.         Understand, guide and develop those fearful of change

3.         Foster new digital behaviours and upskilling, such as knowledge-sharing

4.         Reshape commercial models to encourage digital ways of working

5.         Use digital to encourage value through standardising components

6.         Use digital to behave and act more sustainably

7.         Procure services in smarter and more sustainable ways

Lesley Waud is design development director for transportation at Atkins, part of the SNC-Lavalin Group. Lesley will be exploring these themes further as part of the Big Thinking programme at Highways UK on 6/7 November.


Future mobility, made possible

Future mobility, made possible

Author: John Batten – Global Cities Director, Arcadis

John Batten

By 2050, more than two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities, and this rapid rise in urbanisation will dramatically reshape how we live our lives. From climate change to mobility, the impact of population growth means we will need to rethink many of the ways in which we, as citizens, interact with our environment, says John Batten, Global Cities Director at Arcadis

Cities everywhere are grappling with congestion, overcrowding, poor air quality and the need to drive greater prosperity and competitiveness. Our experience of a city often comes down to how easy it is to move around, yet with transport contributing to 20% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions and 7 million people dying from air pollution every year, the challenges are clear.

Is there a solution?

Seamless, Connected and Sustainable Mobility

The answer to a seamless transport experience lies in the smart application of technology. New innovations and low carbon solutions that can be integrated with and complement the existing transport network offer the best opportunity for progress. However, this can only be effective if the needs of the citizen are put at the heart of future transport plans.

Numerous emerging trends will have an impact. From Artificial Intelligence and drone technology disrupting first and last mile delivery, to the reduction in car ownership and the rise of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) and Mobility as a Service (Maas), success ultimately depends on how a city aligns its vision with the citizen experience.

Postcards from around the world

We are already seeing some exciting interventions happening in cities all around the world.

We are working with the city of Amsterdam to design and procure a MaaS solution for their Zuidas business district. A MaaS service makes it easier for people to plan, book, pay for and access a range of different transport modes with a single App. Our work included business engagement to achieve agreement from 15 of the largest employers in the region to combine their ‘buying power’ for the MaaS solution; creating a demonstration service (an “experiment”) to challenge employees to give up their car for a month to experience MaaS, generate early adopter advocates and to capture essential user feedback to input to the procurement approach; and consultancy support for the MaaS procurement.

As people start making smarter choices about how they move, we hope to see a reduction in the pressure on the crowded road network in Amsterdam’s business district, improving air quality, and helping citizens to be happier, healthier and more connected.

New York is also a city feeling the strain of population growth and an overburdened transport network. With people living in increasingly close proximity, buildings often don’t have the space to store or recycle waste. The result is that, in one day alone, up to 34 waste trucks are traversing four boroughs to service businesses in a neighbourhood where the infrastructure is already straining under the weight of demand.

In response, we used our digital knowledge to develop a waste collection strategy that made better use of existing resources. Based on a simulation model, we found that a zoned approach would reduce truck traffic by a staggering 18 million miles a day. A simple approach, with a significant outcome.

Putting future mobility into practice

There are some huge opportunities for UK cities to benefit. Turning our attention closer to home, Cardiff’s new electric vehicle strategy demonstrates how an ambitious city is upping its mobility game.

Government policy dictates that all new cars and vans will need to be Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV) by 2040, yet Cardiff has significantly fewer charge points compared to other core cities. The council needed to develop an Electric Vehicle (EV) charging network across the while city, leading by example by cleaning up its own fleet. This is a large, wholescale change that can only be achieved through collaboration with key partners, ensuring the EV agenda sits alongside a much wider sustainable transport strategy.

The step-by-step guide we used to help Cardiff Council offers a blueprint that can help any city review its future mobility strategy.

A 6-Step Guide

1. Using the City’s vision as a starting point, define detailed objectives.

2. Review the current market.

3. Develop an appropriate stakeholder engagement strategy. Who needs to be part of the decision-making process?

4. Establish business and operating models that will work long-term.

5. Enable rollout. Is the plan seamless, does it meet required standards, and does it provide the best user experience?

6. Manage & maintain. Reliability is key to user confidence.

With just a few practical measures, future mobility – designed around the needs of the citizen – can become a reality.

John Batten is Global Cities Director at Arcadis. He is speaking on the Burges Salmon stage at Highways UK offering further observations on Big thinking from big cities, radical ideas on mobility from around the world. His colleague Tom Morgan is also presenting on Cardiff’s EV transition with Andrew Gregory, Director of Environment, Planning and Transport at Cardiff City Council, in the main theatre.


Helping demystify the innovation support landscape

Helping demystify the innovation support landscape

Author: Simon Yarwood – KTN’s Knowledge Transfer Manager for ICT and Energy Harvesting

Simon Yarwood

The UK’s innovation support landscape is varied and complex, which proved to be the underlying observation of a Government commissioned report by Professor Dame Ann Dowling on Business and University Research Collaborations, published in 2015.

Professor Dowling’s review included recommendations to Government in two main areas. Firstly, reducing the complexity of the relationships between UK businesses and the UK’s university researchers; and secondly fostering and supporting relationships between researchers and business, particularly for smaller firms looking to innovate.

The need to reduce complexity was neatly summed up in this largely incomprehensible infographic

included within the report. It shows the complex and diverse nature at the national level of the research and innovation ecosystem. Although it’s now a little out of date – with some of the organisations changing name or amalgamating – the underlying picture remains much the same.

One of the Government’s responses to the Dowling Review was the creation of UK Research and Innovation compromising the Research Councils, Innovate UK and a number of funded support mechanisms such as the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) and Catapult centres.

This organisation plays a key part in supporting innovative UK business with funding and networking. It is, however, relatively early days and for innovators there can still appear to be a bewildering array of organisations. At the most basic level it is hard to know whose door you should be knocking on.

Sitting within the KTN, our role as the networking partner to Innovate UK (the funding body) means I interact with companies of all sizes and at every stage of their innovation journey. My first piece of advice is invariably to think about the technology readiness level or TRL of your innovation or product.

TRLs were originally developed by NASA as a method of measuring the maturity of space exploration technology. Many different industries have now adopted them as an approach to assessing technologies and their readiness for on-site deployment.

NASA today describes the system as a useful, commonly understood method for explaining to collaborators and stakeholders the maturity of a particular technology.

My point is the TRL of your innovation has a big impact on who you should be speaking to within the UK Research and Innovation family.

This certainly isn’t official KTN or Government thinking, but in an attempt to simplify and demystify the UK’s innovation support landscape I’ve developed the following quick guide. Think of it as a lens into some specific parts that can help business to innovate. The landscape support table

shows the technology readiness levels at which the different UK Research and Innovation organisations operate and outlines some of their key support activities.

In the first instance I’d suggest deciding roughly where you sit on the TRL scale and then, taking into account the type and size of your business/organisation, look at the table to determine where to start. This will help reduce time wasted knocking on wrong doors and hopefully help you reach the right people sooner. Also remember that KTN is here to help people navigate this space, so if you find yourself still wondering where to look, drop us a line and we will do what we can to help. You’ll find more information on KTN here

Simon Yarwood is KTN’s Knowledge Transfer Manager for ICT and Energy Harvesting

KTN and Innovate UK are the principal supporters of Highways UK’s two innovation competitions, both of which are currently open for entries.


Transport Technology Forum 2.0 hits the ground running

Transport Technology Forum 2.0 hits the ground running

Author: Darren Capes – ITS Policy Lead for the Department for Transport’s Traffic and Technology Division

Darren Capes

The TTF or Transport Technology Forum was relaunched on the 25March at an event in Central London. The Inaugural Forum meeting was attended by around 100 representatives of local authorities, central government, industry and academia with a common interest in the development of road technology. Attendees at the highly successful and stimulating event heard DfT explain details of the proposed organisation and operation of the TTF and had an opportunity to participate in its ongoing development.

The event introduced Arup as the new delivery partner for the TTF and Steve Gooding of the RAC Foundation as the Forum’s independent chair. It set out the aims of the TTF to support those working in the road technology sector in public bodies, the private sector or academia, and through regular meetings and conferences provide a space for the exchange of ideas, support and guidance. By running a series of Technical Working Groups, the TTF will also provide enhanced support for existing initiatives such as UTMC and in new areas including data and C-ITS technology deployment.

The Forum does not have a membership and participation is open and free for all those involved in roads technology. The Forum will meet three times a year, twice for general forum meetings and once for the annual national conference. By attending Forum meetings, you will have a chance to hear about and influence the Action Plan, which is the programme of research and project work undertaken by Arup with DfT and Innovate UK (IUK) funding based on the needs and interests of the community.

Currently we are completing projects to develop training materials to support local authority skills in traffic signals UTC design and operation, and traffic signal optimisation guidance. These initial projects give a feel for the type of work the TTF will focus on in the future; small, targeted projects that offer support and guidance or in some way assist the roads technology community in working more efficiently and effectively, specifying and procuring more easily or addressing the challenges of new technologies.

The TTF was conceived around five years ago as a means of bringing procurers and suppliers together to develop and grow the adoption of new technologies by roads authorities, both to benefit the operation of transport in the UK and drive the development of the industry. It was envisaged that the TTF would become a subscription based organisation funded by and acting on behalf of its members. Experience showed this model was unlikely to succeed in a small market like roads technology and the likelihood was that the TTF would never reached its potential this way.

The need for the Forum has become widely understood and so it is being relaunched as a DfT and IUK funded entity. The benefits of this are clear as we move towards a world of increasingly complex and interconnected technology, where road vehicles will be at the very least connected to each other and most probably automate to some degree. The traditional role of highway authorities and the supply chain they depend on are changing and new technologies, skills and business models are required. The need for government to take a role in leading this is also clear, as it is through the highway authorities and technology suppliers that the aims described in the Industrial Strategy, Grand Challenges and Future of Mobility Urban Strategy will be realised. There is also a need to ensure that local authorities possess the skills and experience to make the most of what they have now in terms of road technology, meet growing expectations with limited resources and access funding where it is available.

DfT sees the TTF as a central part of meeting these challenges and has contracted Arup to deliver secretariat activities, TTF events organisation and project work. To ensure the TTF works for the wider roads technology community, its activities will be overseen by a Steering Group made up of DfT, IUK and representatives of the various sectors of the community. It will also be attended by the independent chair of the Forum, there to represent the interests of the wider Forum and Technical Working Groups. The Steering Group will also form links to others work in the sector including AESIN, (who represent the automotive electronics industry) and British Standards Institute, both of whom had representatives at the recent meeting. We will be expanding this and involving other bodies to widen the scope and experience of the TTF as we move forward.

TTF holds a contact list of those who have been involved in the Forum and DfT local transport initiatives in the past, so many of you will have seen news about the relaunched TTF already. If you have not, then please join our mailing list at The TTF exists for all involved in roads technology and you are encouraged to participate!

Darren Capes is the ITS Policy Lead for the Traffic and Technology Division at the Department for Transport


Igniting ideas and relationships

Igniting ideas and relationships

The first quarter of Highways UK’s annual cycle, at least from the speaker programme perspective, is relatively quiet which affords the luxury of time to reflect on the priorities and key areas for development over the coming year. It’s also quite a scary period in that the on-going evolution and continuing growth of Highways UK sets the bar ever higher and we are left pondering how we are going to top the progress achieved during the previous year. I guess it’s a nice problem to have…

With over 4,000 visitors and 180 exhibitors in 2018, Highways UK has grown three-fold on both these measures in just four years. Importantly, the quality of visitors, speakers and exhibitors has not been diluted by this exponential growth. 

When it launched, Highways UK very much focused on the Strategic Road Network, the newly formed Highways England and opportunity from the Road Investment Strategy (RIS). While our relationship with Highways England remains an important foundation for the event, we have with each year significantly broadened our scope to bring in ever more key players active within the highways space. Typically we find that newly launched content areas develop the following year into something far more significant than initially envisaged.

For example, in our second year we provided the public launch platform for the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund’s Major Road Network report, from which we have developed strong ties with the emerging Sub-national Transport Bodies. Extending this thinking to other asset owning authorities, by last year we had established vibrant content hubs covering the SRN, regional, local and city road networks and their attendant mobility challenges and solutions.

We have also majored on technology and innovation, initially with the launch of the intelligent infrastructure hub in 2016, followed by the materials innovation hub in 2018, both of which are challenge-based competitions that put innovators in direct contact with client authorities. 

Last year also saw the launch of Meridian’s CAV showcase talks, which places road and digital infrastructure firmly centre-stage in the CAV journey.

This year will see the addition of a sustainability theatre sitting alongside the technology and materials & maintenance industry briefing theatres, providing an area dedicated to a broad range of roads related environmental issues, from improving air quality to reducing embedded carbon.  

So what next? We know that self-driving and zero emission vehicles will have a profound effect on how we design, build and maintain the roads in the future; but innovations in digital technologies, materials and working practices offer benefits that can be realised right now.

By deepening our relationships with the likes of Meridian, CCAV, the Government Catapults, Innovate UK, DfT, HE, CIHT, IET, MPA, ADEPT, CECA and LGTAG, we will examine the blockers and enablers to how these disruptors and innovations are playing out in both the immediate and longer-term across the whole network. We will also build upon the national, regional, local and urban road owner hubs – and in support of this are delighted that Transport Scotland has confirmed it will be at the 2019 Highways UK in force. 

Beyond this, we will work tirelessly to deliver an event that brings together the right people and organisations at scale in an environment that ignites ideas and relationships.

Despite the uncertain times, there are many reasons to be optimistic. The stable and high-level Investment in the SRN heralded by the first five-year RIS is set to continue and, as the 2018 Autumn Budget confirmed, will increase in RIS2.

There is even the potential of a significant and desperately needed change in fortune for local authorities on the horizon. In his Highways UK 2018 keynote, Roads Minister Jesse Norman announced what for many must have been the almost unimaginable: “In the coming years,” he said, “I want to go even further than the spending outlined in the Budget and move towards a transparent and strategic five-year settlement for local highways maintenance.”

The point is that transport infrastructure is central to the Government’s macro ambition. Speaking at the launch of the Government Office for Science’s Foresight Future of Mobility Report last week, the Government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance noted that the UK is well placed to capitalise on the exciting opportunities offered by transport technologies and innovation which will benefit the economy, society and the citizen. “The Industrial Strategy and in particular the Mobility Grand Challenge will be central to helping us realise this ambition,” he says.

And transport, he adds, is more than just travel, in that it connects people and places and shapes the way we live: “We must grasp the opportunities to fully exploit our potential and create a transport system fit for the future. To be successful, industry, academia and policy-makers  will need to work together, with the user at the heart of the system.”

All pointers, perhaps, for who you might meet and what they might be talking about at this year’s Highways UK in November.

Further information on Highways UK:

Exhibiting and sponsorship opportunities contact

Speaker opportunities contact

Got something to say? We publish Talking Heads blogs throughout the year and are looking for challenging and thought-provoking articles of around 600 words. Contact to pitch your idea. 


Paul Wheeler

Paul Wheeler – Content Director, Highways UK

Invest today to deliver the highway infrastructure of tomorrow

Invest today to deliver the highway infrastructure of tomorrow

The UK’s strategic road network is one of its most valuable national assets, key to our economic growth. Four million people use Highways England’s strategic road network each day, and this is forecast to grow by over 40% by 2040.

Just as an effective roads network is core to the country’s economic resilience, so this in turn must be underpinned by a skilled workforce. At Balfour Beatty, our expert teams have helped to deliver major strategic highways projects such the M4/M5 smart motorway upgrade, the A3 Hindhead Tunnel and the A21 upgrade scheme between Tonbridge and Pembury.

However, there is a widening disconnect between the number of skilled workers retiring and the number of young people entering the profession. It is imperative that we work to close the skills gap if we are to ensure the workforce required to efficiently build and maintain our roads in the long term.

The growth of initiatives like The 5% Club, an employer-led organisation whose members commit to achieving 5% of their workforce being in ‘earn and learn’ positions, is an encouraging step in the right direction. Apprenticeships are a vital route into work and we should build on the number of entry-level positions we offer, as well as attractive career progression opportunities.

Coupled with a skilled workforce, the development of innovative construction practices is essential to delivering the country’s major pipeline of forthcoming highways projects: Highways England is bringing forward record investment in roads through its £8.7 billion Regional Development Partnership framework for road improvements between 2018-2024, and a £6 billion 10-year Smart Motorways Programme.

We must modernise our construction methods to meet the challenge of delivering these essential investments in our highways. In Balfour Beatty’s recent paper entitled ‘Customer Driven: Delivering roads for the future’ we highlight the particular need for greater off-site manufacturing as one such solution.

The increased use of technology in road construction such as Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) is crucial to reducing on-site works. DfMA can reduce build time by 20-60% by allowing work on two or more phases of a highway scheme to take place simultaneously: while one part of the scheme is being completed onsite, the elements needed for the next phase can be constructed elsewhere. The highways industry needs to adapt the way it operates to see fewer but safer roadworks and shorter road closures across the board. This will not only increase the wellbeing of operatives undertaking roadworks, but also will improve customer experience while they are being delivered.

We recently put this into practice on the A14 Cambridge-Huntingdon improvement scheme, which is being delivered by Balfour Beatty, Skanska and Costain, where two 1,000 tonne bridges were constructed off-site and installed using a remote-controlled modular transporter. These forward-looking ways of delivering highways services ultimately allow us to move away from the traditional model of workers operating on the side of the road, thereby increasing safety for the workforce whilst reducing costs, reducing delivery time and reducing disruption to the general public.

A safe and suitable strategic road network is vital to connecting communities, delivering goods and keeping people moving up and down the country. As an industry we must invest in the resources required to deliver the significant pipeline of major highways schemes that are essential to shaping our modern infrastructure.

Phil Clifton, Managing Director of Balfour Beatty’s Highways business, is speaking on the Future of Mobility in the Main Theatre at 15.15 on 8 November


Phil Clifton

Phil Clifton – Managing Director of Balfour Beatty’s Highways business

The vital ingredients for successful asset management

The vital ingredients for successful asset management

The challenges facing highway authorities seem to amount to an almost impossible conundrum. Peaks in public expectation are matched by troughs in central government funding for local infrastructure. As recently highlighted in a letter by a group of industry bodies to the chair of the Transport Select Committee, current funding plans mean that the SRN will receive 52 times more funding per mile than local highways, though local networks carry 64% of all road traffic.

The same letter highlights the need for improved governance as well as more money – and asset management is essentially a governance system. The ISO 55000 series contains a substantial number of challenging requirements, and the new Code of Practice is even heftier. Picking through the guidance, three vital ingredients emerge as essential for successful asset management.

The first of these is practicalrisk management, and there are several requirements relating to risk-based management in the new Code of Practice. Risk in management standards can seem obscurely theoretical, when asset managers need practicality, and practical risk management means ubderstanding and clearly stating what is at risk.

This might appear a statement of the obvious, but when describing a risk, something must clearly be at risk. In other words, “there’s a risk the maintenance backlog will increase” is not an effective argument for resources. There must be a “so what?” that relates clearly to organisational objectives. Not only does this ensure alignment of asset management activities with business goals, but it also makes sure that risks are articulated in a manner that makes sense to politicians, the public and those with the purse strings.

Corporate risk criteria for likelihood and consequence are the starting point for any risk-based approach. Asset management risks should be evaluated using the common currency needed to compare them with each other, and other types of risk. It is not sensible to create an independent highways-specific version of a risk matrix without referencing it back to the corporate set, assuming you need those without technical knowledge to understand risk consequences.

A successful risk-based approach means that you and your teams use risk as a tool to prioritise activities and allocate resources, as opposed to simply filling in your organisation’s risk spreadsheet. Having a stand-up discussion about the barriers in the way of delivery, and agreeing how they rate with risk evaluation criteria, is an effective way of aligning individual judgments and priorities and feeding into asset management plans.

The second vital ingredient for successful asset management relates to data. The Code of Practice has several recommendations for which a data strategy is a useful building block. A data strategy is:documented, detailed record of data needed to deliver objectives and manage risks to them;a risk-based prioritisation of that data; and aplan to obtain data that is missing, to mitigate the fact that data isn’t available, and to manage the existing data.

Do not wait until investing in a new set of surveys to create a data strategy. Do not assume that investment in a new maintenance management system will resolve the problem of data management. Create a data strategy and use it to drive investments in information.

Thirdly, the style of leadership needed for effective asset management is rooted in the fact that it is an outward-facing discipline, requiring co-ordination across most departments, often from a middle-management position.

Good asset management leaders do not sit isolated, producing a strategy that remains on a shelf. They are evangelists who describe a long-term vision for their organisation, and enough of the specific changes required to make that vision credible.

They present evidenced-based arguments for changing processes and understand how to make those arguments appeal to senior decision-makers and operational staff alike. They understand technical detail but also know when the detail is a distraction.

A good asset management leader is only rarely army-sergeant-major and more often car-salesman-with-integrity, if such a thing exists! This rare but essential leadership style is the third ingredient for successful asset management.

Claire Gowson will further outline the vital ingredients for successful asset management in the Tarmac Materials & Maintenance Dome at 11.30 on 7 November.


Claire Gowson

Claire Gowson – Principal Consultant, Atkins

The EV opportunity

The EV opportunity

At a recent transport event I was part of a panel addressing the issues associated with developing the infrastructure to facilitate the transition to electric vehicles. Burges Salmon’s two largest sectors are Transport and Energy so electric vehicles, and indeed Connected Autonomous Vehicles are an area where we are seeing considerable developments. Some of the observations I made are presented below.

Charging infrastructure 

There is no doubt that there has been somewhat of a rush to catch up on the charging infrastructure needed to support the existing electric vehicles and those predicted to be purchased. It is absolutely essential that this charging point infrastructure is harmonised, the charge points need to talk to each other and hopefully the Automated Electric Vehicles Act will help that.

What we have tended to see so far is a rush to grab suitable charging sites by developer and infrastructure providers. Parallels can be drawn with the UK solar boom some years ago. The concerns of many in the sector are that with that land grab and quick roll out of charging infrastructure often pursuant to grants, there is the potential for a high degree of redundancy in the medium term. Whether that’s because the charging point infrastructure is inadequate, is not suitable for purpose as the electric vehicles develop, or in the wrong place, will remain to be seen.

As we are rolling out charging points, it is essential that smart charging is part of it. As one speaker has put it, it is just wholly irresponsible if we are not employing smart charging alongside the rollout of charge point infrastructure. The UK’s record of rolling out smart systems is fairly dismal, but if, as predicted, the majority of electric vehicle charging is at home, it will be essential for those homes to have a smart charging solution, if nothing else to help the local distribution network cope with a multitude of new charging points all plugging in at the same time.

The fleet market must embrace electric vehicles

Our view is that it is essential for the fleet market to embrace electric vehicles. Electric vehicles are not the complete solution for all, but they will play a big role. Most companies have embraced the move to low carbon with many signing up to pledges to use 100% renewable energy. The use of electric vehicles in fleets will be the next stage and one can foresee a situation where politically, companies have to be seen to be using low carbon vehicles. Fleets drive a huge amount of second hand cars, which will then come onto the market and facilitate the further development of electric vehicles.

Talking to many, there is a real concern that the vehicle supply of electric vehicles is not out there and electric vehicles are not being produced to the speed and the pace that is quick enough to satisfy demand. Within companies it is going to be important that both the fleet managers procuring vehicles and the energy managers of corporates get together and talk. The roll out of electric vehicles is as much, if not more, about the energy needs, requirements and supplies for the company and organisation, as it is about mobility. With those two divisions/people talking there is a real opportunity to put in place a sustainable solution for both the transport and energy needs of the company. Looking at the energy that electric vehicle fleets need ought to involve a holistic approach to the energy requirements of the organisation. Are grid upgrades needed, would some form of onsite renewable energy to provide the electricity be prudent? What about some form of energy storage? Can the electric vehicles while they are charging provide that storage and resilience?

The rollout is unstoppable

Electric vehicles will happen and the rollout of them is largely unstoppable. The issue posed to the UK is how do we capture the industrial opportunities from the rollout of electric vehicles and how do we ensure that any hindering factors, particularly around energy, do not stunt that growth and those opportunities.

At Burges Salmon we are incredibly positive about the growth of sustainable transport in the UK. We have been working for some years on electric vehicles/transport, but also the next phase in terms of Connected Autonomous Vehicles and we must all remember that the move to sustainable transport will be a huge and revolutionary shift for the UK. The way we are looking at transport is changing dramatically and will continue to do so in a short space of time.

Our thinking on car ownership, on transport and how we get from A to B could be blown apart over the course of the next decade. The UK needs to ensure that it is nimble enough to adapt. As an energy lawyer perhaps the most exciting opportunity which sustainable transport presents is the ability to provide a bridge to those people who don’t traditionally consider where their electricity comes from, how it is used and how it can be optimised. What an opportunity!

Ross Fairley, partner and Head of Renewable Energy, Burges Salmon. He is speaking in the Main Theatre electric vehicle session at 11.45 on 8 November


Ross Fairley

Ross Fairley – Head of the Burges Salmon Renewable Energy and Electric Vehicle teams

Year of Engineering at Highways UK 2018

Year of Engineering at Highways UK 2018

The strategic road network in England connects businesses, families and friends. Its 4,300 miles help ensure our supermarket shelves are well stocked, and allow families to enjoy their holidays at destinations across the country. And upgrades to the network can help unlock land for new homes and jobs.

Unsurprisingly it takes an army of people to keep that network safe and reliable for the four million journeys it carries every day.

Among those are engineers, people whose work plays a crucial role in the future of the network.

The country needs an extra 20,000 engineering graduates a year and that’s why Highways England is taking part in the Year of Engineering campaign, which aims to inspire young people to consider engineering as a rewarding career. Highways England is looking for a continuing pipeline of young engineers to deliver the multi-billion investment plans for our motorways and major A-roads, improving lives and making a positive difference to the world.

We have invited 75 students from three schools across Birmingham and the Black Country to visit us at Highways UK. The aim is for them to experience first-hand what we do by taking part in discovery trails around selected exhibits and then having ‘big conversations’ with senior leaders. So far we have had 20 exhibitors on board to work with us. But there’s more to be done to engage our future engineers, can you help keep the momentum going?

We will start the visit by hosting a briefing section to explain what the highways sector has to offer before providing the students with a series of tasks which will involve engaging with exhibitors across Highways UK. Our own graduates and apprentices will act as group hosts, a perfect testimony to encourage the young students. The visit will end with a structured hour back in the theatre with some of our senior executives.

We hope that running such an activity such as this, will bring benefits to both the schools and our sector by:

·                 Giving young people an opportunity to explore the reality of working in the Highways sector

·                 Giving businesses the opportunity to showcase innovation and new technologies and inspire young people from diverse backgrounds to explore career opportunities in the sector

·                 Letting senior leaders meet and hear about the aspirations and interests of a diverse group of pupils

·                 Giving pupils access to senior leaders and to have big conversations

·                 Giving students an ‘experience’ and memories and information on job opportunities the sector has to offer

The Year of Engineering theme for November will be “Tomorrow’s Engineers” and it is also Tomorrow’s Engineers Week during Highways UK. So there’s no better time to consider engineering, which is a challenging and rewarding profession.

We want to work with our suppliers to bring young people face to face with our work. So they can see first-hand what we do, the range of jobs on offer, and the difference we make to people’s lives. We want our innovation and technology partners to do the same.

The Year of Engineering is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the huge contribution that engineering makes to our country in order to encourage young people to join the profession. The campaign is looking for fun and innovative ways to bring engineering to life and reach young people including under-represented groups, painting a positive picture of an exciting industry that makes real improvements to people’s lives.

We all need to showcase the breadth of roles, good pay, the potential for travel, and the vocational and academic routes into engineering that make it accessible. We must show off the wide range of jobs, the technological and design creativity and innovation that goes into modern roads. We must reach people of all backgrounds and cultures, so we widen our recruitment pool beyond a population that is currently more than 90% white and 90% male.

Highways UK presents a great opportunity to get involved – please do all you can to help us encourage the engineers of the future. In doing so we will broaden and build the future of our profession, which in turn will shape the infrastructure that supports all our lives.

For more information about the Year of Engineering, visit:

Mike Wilson is Highways England’s Chief Highways Engineer, and also Executive Director Safety, Engineering and Standards


Mike Wilson

Mike Wilson – Chief Highways Engineer, and Executive Director Safety, Engineering and Standards, Highways England

The state of our local highways

The state of our local highways

The last few years has seen a welcome change in the way highways are viewed politically, with new arrangements in place for the governance of our strategic network and the funding it receives. There have been great strides in improving efficiency in the highways industry, but we need to recognise and highlight that the local highways network needs urgent answers to the questions of funding and governance so that we can truly deliver the service our customers need.

In recent years local highway infrastructure have been under funded and unrecognised for the fundamental role it plays in the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of our nation. Unless a future financial settlement addresses these issues, the country will continue to build up a maintenance backlog for future generations. This backlog will continue to affect the condition of all aspect of highway infrastructure including carriageways, footways, bridges, lighting, signs and drainage infrastructure, all of which are vital in providing local communities with a safe transport network that works effectively.

This is in stark contrast to the strategic road network (SRN) which has been granted increased funding, stable investment and unified governance. 64 per cent of all road traffic is on the local highway network which forms 98% of the overall network, in addition to almost all walking, cycling and bus journeys, and yet the SRN will receive 52 times more funding per mile under current plans. While the SRN should be sufficiently resourced to enable freight and longer journeys, there is a need to recognise the value of local transport.

The state of our local highways is a national issue and there are key issues to be addressed:

Firstly, that local authorities should not be forced into a trade-off between funding local roads and other vital services such as adult social care or children’s services. The removal of ‘ring-fenced’ funding allowed new opportunities for local authorities to choose how they spend their money, and to prioritise the issues of local residents. However, protecting spending in some areas means that other budgets will inevitably be squeezed, leading to a lower quality of service.

Secondly, that the scale of the problem is not fully understood, nor the full benefits that the local highway network brings, as there are no overall comprehensive data sets for local roads, which are managed by 152 different local authorities. There is a range of useful surveys by bodies such as the AIA, RAC, NHT, LGA, AA and UKRLG but none are sufficient to provide the detail needed to develop a structured approach to addressing the issues.

Thirdly, there needs to be a proper consideration of how we fund our local highway network for long term sustainability. Currently there is no relationship between using local highways and paying for them, despite some users such as utilities and freight companies having a disproportionate impact. The creation of a roads funds for the SRN is welcome but given virtually all journeys on the strategic network begin and end on the local network it seems perverse not to extend the principle to the local roads network.

Finally, our roads are there to deliver for all users, not just motorists, so the future of local roads governance and funding must address the needs of walkers, cyclists and all users.

As part of my presidential year I’ll be carrying out a CIHT review into these issues to make some recommendations to government on the future of our local highway network.

Matthew Lugg, OBE, is President of the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation

·      Matthew will be discussing these issues in the CIHT Theatre at Highways UK on 7 November, starting at 12.00. He is also speaking in the Future Proofing Local Authority Roads panel session in the Jacobs Main Theatre at 09.30 on 8 November. Please come and contribute to the future of our local highway network.



Matthew Lugg

Matthew Lugg – President CIHT

Unpicking the Infrastructure Investment Strategy

Unpicking the Infrastructure Investment Strategy

It has often been said that the beginning and end of a journey start on the local road network and for our communities it doesn’t really matter what we call our roads, SRN, Local Roads, MRN and so on. For them it’s how they get from A to B. They want to do this knowing it will be reliable, quick and safe.

The Transport Investment Strategy sets out a vision for our roads network that recognises that we must fundamentally put the user at the heart of the decisions we make. It makes strong reference to the importance we must place on our environment and well-being. It is uplifting to see these words set out in a transport strategy document. This strategy gives weight to the view that done well, done sympathetically and done with our communities and businesses we can bring about benefits that are more than just the time it takes to get from A to B. It presents an opportunity to shape housing development, improve prosperity and to capitalise on new and emerging technology.

Local roads will always be important to local authorities, not least because of the sheer length of road that we manage, some 44 times the length of road than the SRN. It’s also fair to say there has been a historic under investment in our local roads.  We know that for infrastructure investment to be successful in creating those vibrant, thriving and healthy communities we need to follow an asset approach which emphasises the importance of good maintenance. Investment in new infrastructure, strategic or otherwise cannot be at detriment to the long term maintenance of what we already have.

So we have this opportunity, initially set out in the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund Major Roads report which suggests not only an MRN but also, crucially, the ways in which funding could support it. We can all list our most heavily trafficked routes, the ones that without which businesses, visitors and residents themselves would struggle. What matters now is the outcome we choose for this potential new network. In some respects it matters not who manages it; more important are the outcomes for the user.

Bring together a good quality strategic road network with a major route network that has for example, the right levels of investment to unlock pinch points and you almost have a recipe for success. Throw in the right level of investment for the local roads, including the necessary maintenance funding and the network can only provide a great user experience, provide opportunities for business and support our economic growth.

It is too easy to think about new infrastructure, even though that may be the right solution. Our sub national transport strategies need to drive that particular set of priorities. And within those transport strategies we need to look at other ways to support the traveller. We need to consider, for example, how smart ticketing solutions can help with the user experience.  We need to be mindful that at some point the internal combustion engine will become the enthusiast’s choice rather than the norm. Our transport strategies not only need to consider the here and now but to look 20, 30 or 40 years from now. Our investment decisions need to be reflective of what a future network may look like.

I think the Transport Investment strategy sets the tone and gives us the springboard to consider this. As a strategy I quite like it and it appears deliverable. The test will be how we rise to the challenges it poses and how the Government supports us in doing it. It has also been said that fine words butter no parsnips, perhaps the first recognition of how committed we are will show through in the Autumn budget on the 22 November. I do hope so.

Rupert Clubb is Director of Communities, Economy and Transport, East Sussex County Council and the immediate Past President of ADEPT, the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport

Rupert will expand his thoughts on unpicking the Infrastructure Investment Strategy and  the interfaces across the SRN and local and major roads networks in session 2 of the HUK Conference on 8 November


Rupert Clubb

Rupert Clubb – Director of Communities, Economy and Transport, East Sussex County Council

Help leading disability sports charity put a new minibus on the road

Help leading disability sports charity put a new minibus on the road

With the help of Highways UK supporters, partners, visitors and exhibitors, leading disability sports charity The Lord’s Taverners hopes to put a new minibus on the road.

Our minibus programme celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2016 when we were able to donate another 40 specially adapted minibuses to special needs schools across the UK – and you cannot underestimate the important role these iconic green buses play in utilising the road network to allow pupils to participate in sporting activities within their community.

Each minibus is vital in helping pupils to get to and from school, engage with the local community, access sport and recreational activities and experience new environments to develop life skills and boost confidence. By the end of this year, we will have put nearly 1,200 minibuses on the road and they cover hundreds of thousands of miles on the UK’s road network every year, so the synergies of our partnership with Highways UK are clear for all to see. 

It’s most fitting therefore that we are looking to put a new minibus on the road in partnership with those who help plan, manage and maintain the UK’s road network.

But we need the help of Highways UK supporters, partners, exhibitors and visitors to raise the £25,000 needed to provide this transport lifeline – and you can do this in a number of ways.

Please contact Mark Jones at or call 020 7025 0009 for more information on how you can help.



Paul Robin

Paul Robin – CEO, The Lord’s Taverners

A greener vision for major roads: will RIS2 rise to the challenge?

A greener vision for major roads: will RIS2 rise to the challenge?

As the Government develops the next Road Investment Strategy, there’s a lot of talk about technology and growth, with smart motorways and ‘mile a minute’ expressways connecting new homes and jobs and growing the economy.

But what kind of strategic road network do we need for a sustainable future? That’s the question Campaign for Better Transport’s new report Rising to the Challenge seeks to answer.

Our report sets out a shared green vision for the nation’s major roads, developed in partnership with sixteen other NGOs. It shows how the network can be enhanced not expanded, to be better for people and the environment, with examples of best practice from the UK and around the world.

We set out three priorities for RIS2.

Firstly, we advocate a ‘Fix it first’ approach, to focus on the roads we have rather than building new ones. We want to see investment in the bread and butter issues of road maintenance, safety and signage and in upgrading the network to meet the latest design standards from cycling provision to energy efficient lighting.

Fixing roads is not just about pothole repair. Continuing the programme of ‘green retrofit’ that has started in RIS1, mitigating the impact of major roads on the natural environment and public health is also a priority. Thanks in part to the designated funds we helped secure, RIS1 has begun to deliver some improvements, but there’s much more to be done.

Highways England projects like the improvements to the Droitwich Pools under the M5, and the plans for a green bridge over the A38 at Haldon Hill are inspiring. Using natural drainage systems and protecting wild flower verges may grab fewer headlines, but will pay dividends in terms of future resilience.

Secondly, we want to see a more integrated approach, redesigning roads to join up better with local transport, walking and cycling, and not forgetting equestrians. Too many communities find major roads are more of a barrier than a bridge: refocusing on ending severance and reconnecting communities with accessible routes along desire lines makes sense. So does ensuring that new or upgraded roads work for public transport users, with safe locations for bus stops, better connections to Park & Ride sites, and bus priority at key junctions.

Thirdly, we believe RIS2 is a great opportunity for demonstrating environmental leadership.  National targets on cutting CO2 emissions, improving air quality and securing no net loss of biodiversity are for all sectors, not just highways. But getting roads policy right will be critical to delivering them.

We are calling for RIS2 to contribute proactively by rolling out electric vehicle charging points, working in partnership with local authorities to deliver Clean Air Zones and implementing environmental management systems across the family of Highways England contractors.

Alongside these policy ideas, we are proposing a comprehensive set of performance metrics which progress from measuring activity to measuring impact: such as assessing the ecological status of waterways not just how many culverts have been upgraded. We’re proposing new ways of measuring the impact of roads on landscape and heritage assets and calling for HE’s Design Panel to review schemes in sensitive locations. And we want to see environmental problems tackled at source: noise-reducing surfaces bring much wider benefit than double-glazing.

Highways England has faced some challenges over the deliverability of a construction-heavy RIS1 which includes controversial new road building through protected landscapes. Following our approach in RIS2 would bring innovation and opportunity for the highways sector, reduced conflict with communities and a better outcome for the environment we share.

Roads have a huge impact on our surroundings and our quality of life. RIS2 will shape that impact for years to come. By taking on board the expertise that green NGOs have to offer, the strategy can live up to the Government’s pledge to leave the environment in a better state for the next generation.

Rising to the Challenge: a shared green vision for RIS2 is published by Campaign for Better Transport, with support from British Horse Society, Campaign for National Parks, ClientEarth, CPRE, Cycling UK, Friends of the Earth, Living Streets, Noise Abatement Society, Plantlife, Ramblers, Sustrans, The Heritage Alliance, The Wildlife Trusts, UK Noise Association, Woodland Trust and WWF.

Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport will talk further on raising the bar on environmental ambitions within the main conference at the Highways UK during the afternoon of 8 November.


Bridget Fox

Bridget Fox – Sustainable Transport Campaigner, CBT

Integrating technology solutions into an ageing infrastructure

Integrating technology solutions into an ageing infrastructure

Technology is changing the world we live in…. how many times have you heard that said recently? I don’t know about you, but I think by now we are all very aware that this is the case!

I’m interested in how people respond to technology changes: they tend either to embrace them or run for the hills. Let’s assume we are in the camp that wants to embrace this type of change. If this is the case, we are faced with a strange conundrum – it seems to be difficult to procure a technology solution and feel fully satisfied with the outcome.

Therein lies the problem though: more often than not we start with the solution itself without fully considering the outcome that we are trying to achieve. This is not too dissimilar to rushing out and buying the latest two seater sports car when the objective is to transport a family of five safely from A to B – perhaps some of us can relate to this.

I write about this light-heartedly, but it is a significant challenge for our industry. We can take the analogy further – in our situation we are often trying to drive the latest sports car down an ancient uneven cobbled road. In other words, we are trying to integrate the latest technology solutions into an ageing infrastructure and with a wide range of legacy systems. For these reasons I’m not convinced that there is such a thing as a ‘plug and play’ technology solution.

To realise the full potential of technology we need to do three things: begin by defining the outcome; consider carefully the possibilities and complexities of integrating new technology into existing infrastructure; work as one team across all disciplines.

At Costain, we find that beginning by working with our clients to define the outcome for their customers that we are trying to achieve provides an excellent focus for any technology project and is a huge help with key decisions. Secondly, we are passionate about a ‘bottom up’ approach to technology integration – in other words, we have a rich knowledge of how the end device (hardware) functions and we follow the integration from the end device back to the core systems.  Thirdly, we bring multiple skillsets together. Technology solutions don’t have to be defined by “technologists”. We bring all relevant disciplines from civil engineers, mechanical engineers, ecologists etc. and ‘technologists’ together to produce solutions that work.

Highways UK is always an excellent opportunity for industry to come together and discuss burning issues. This year Costain is delighted to be supporting the Intelligent Infrastructure Hub and very pleased to say that the competition is based entirely on client outcomes.

Several challenges have been set by various national and local authorities incuding Highways England, Birmingham City Council, Transport for the North, Transport Scotland, England’s Economic Heartland and The Air Quality Taskforce. The hub provides industry with an opportunity to propose technology solutions to these challenges, with winners chosen by each authority in a live judging session at the show. The challenges range from air quality to safety to optimising vehicle flow, so there is something for everyone to get their teeth into.

Click here for more information on the Intelligent Infrastructure Hub

James Bulleid is technology director for Costain’s infrastructure division


James Bulleid

James Bulleid – Technology Director – Infrastructure, Costain

Time to address transport technology’s discourse vacuum

Time to address transport technology’s discourse vacuum

The ‘Internet of Things’ is already a hackneyed term but there is little doubt that the levels of intelligence intrinsic within our society are greater than ever before.

This is an accelerating trend, and both the levels of data at our disposal and their means of collection, interpretation and delivery will only increase in size and number over time.

From the transport and mobility management perspective, this gives rise to a number of challenges. Many of the technology solutions currently in use were constructed and remain rooted in traditional infrastructure.

And although there is a bewildering array of disruptive but potentially useful new technologies already in existence, selecting which of these to use is far from straightforward.

The common aim is to achieve better optimization of existing assets and the common challenge is about making the progression from gathering data to knowledge, insight and decisions.

An issue is the large number of stakeholders all vying for opportunity and advantage. These include the automotive companies, public and private-sector transport management and service providers, academia and industry (which includes both the suppliers of “traditional” traffic management solutions and the newcomers from the ICT and consumer electronics fields).

I believe a greater level of discourse is key to achieving a clear way forward and that the benefits from the new data driven technologies will only be fully realised when myriad organisations decide to work hand in hand.

Government at the national level needs advice on rapidly evolving technology solutions; academia and industry need an appreciation of the Government’s intentions in order to provide the necessary advice and provide the appropriate goods. At all levels of network management, from national down to local, there is a need to know what peers are doing and when, in order to operate most effectively whilst achieving interoperability and economies of scale.

The Transport Technology Forum (TTF) has been set up to address this ‘discourse vacuum’. But it is far from being just a talking shop and exists to bring together four key groups – the vehicle industry, transport infrastructure and service operators, the technology industry/suppliers, and local authorities.

TTF is about capturing the business case and a strategic roadmap for technology. The business case already tells us that technology represents much better value for money than continued road-building; but those in public sector procurement need justifications for commissioning. Procurement is key.

Our greater aspiration is to accelerate the pace at which Highways England, Transport for London and other similar asset-owning client organisations are able to move forward.

Industry simply isn’t happy with the current pace of roll-out and progression. A big problem is the massive amount of risk-aversion which continues to exist. There’s a lot to be said for a ‘be safe, fail fast, learn fast’ mentality and we want to embed more of this kind of approach in the UK’s collective transport thinking.

And to get there we need to be talking about the best routes forward.

Daniel Ruiz is chair of the Transport Technology Forum and managing director of Dynniq UK and Ireland.

·      TTF is supporting the Intelligent Infrastructure Hub at Highways UK 2017, which is geared around specific infrastructure client challenges provided by Highways England, Birmingham City Council, Transport for the North, England’s Economic Heartland and The Air Quality Taskforce. The detailed challenges and entry criteria are on the Highways UK website


Daniel Ruiz

Daniel Ruiz – Chair of the Transport Technology Forum and Managing Director Dynniq UK and Ireland

Invest in the skills of today for the infrastructure of tomorrow

Invest in the skills of today for the infrastructure of tomorrow

The outlook for the UK’s infrastructure sector has never been more positive. As the pipeline of major infrastructure projects continues to grow, so too has the importance of sustained infrastructure investment.

However, whilst the need for infrastructure investment is now widely recognised, ensuring that there is a workforce sufficiently skilled enough to deliver it remains a question in need of a good answer.

And Brexit negotiations will only add to this uncertainty.

While politicians pore over the detail, we as an industry urgently need to come together to ensure that we have absolutely the right workforce in place to deliver flagship projects such as HS2, Crossrail 2 and Heathrow’s expansion plans not to mention the unique challenges associated with nuclear new build.

Take our domestic workforce, for example. At Balfour Beatty, our highly skilled teams have helped to deliver huge national icons such as the Olympic Stadium and Crossrail to name just two.

But, like our peers, we continue to see an ever-growing disconnect between the number of skilled workers retiring and the number of young professionals entering the industry.

We are battling a skills gap which remains to be closed and we have a generation of young adults for whom our industry is not as attractive as it needs to be.

For years now, the university route has been touted as the best option for long term career progression. Yet, we now need to be promoting alternative routes into infrastructure which provide not just a stable income but an exciting, hands-on and long term career path.

We should be beating the drum louder for ‘earn and learn’ opportunities such as apprenticeships. It’s good to see initiatives such as the 5% Club, an employer-led organisation whose members commit to striving to achieve 5% of their UK workforce in ‘earn and learn’ positons, gaining traction.

We need to get smarter at advocating just how rewarding our industry is to work in. We need to dispel the myths around a lack of career progression and demonstrate how a career in infrastructure will provide exposure to the latest technologies and promote involvement in delivering some of the most genuinely iconic and important projects that will improve people’s lives.

It is also vital that we retain access to skilled and experienced workers from outside the UK that will be required to deliver our infrastructure pipeline. The evidence shows that we cannot fulfil the projected 250,000+ construction and 150,000+ engineering construction workers that will be required in post by 2020 through the development of emerging talent alone. There is no substitute for skilled and experienced craftsmen that are required in the coming years.

In recent decades, the free movement of labour in the EU has provided access to such skills; skills we often cannot find within the UK alone. With 8% of the UK’s overall construction workforce made up of EU nationals, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, it’s essential that we maintain these crucial ties.

We have over 100 years of heritage at Balfour Beatty fuelled by both home grown and international talent – and we are steadfastly focused on creating a workforce fit for the next 100 years.

As an industry, we face a huge challenge to deliver on the infrastructure promises of the future. This will demand a multi-faceted approach and a basket of solutions. The answer lies in retaining access to global resources whilst at the same time investing in our emerging talent to build a skilled and diverse workforce that is fit for the future and that will help shape tomorrow’s world.


  • This year’s Highways UK event at NEC, Birmingham on 8/9 November incorporates Highways People a conference dedicated to how the sector responds to the challenge of developing a strategic talent pipeline. Hold the date and look out for further details over the coming weeks. 


Steve Tarr

Steve Tarr – Managing Director – Major Projects, Balfour Beatty

Collaborate to unlock the real benefits from devolution in the North

Collaborate to unlock the real benefits from devolution in the North

It has moved beyond rhetoric to the point of no return. Pace has been swift – devolution deals have already been agreed and ratified across Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region and the Tees Valley, with further deals submitted and pending. Across the North, political and geospatial differences are being set aside in favour of collaboration and working together. Seizing the moment to drive decision making and empowerment to a new benchmark.

Collaboration is now critical to ensure that the benefits and outcomes of devolution are realised. Across the Northern Powerhouse, devolved combined authorities, metropolitan mayors, transportation bodies such as Transport for the North and Rail North, industry and the supply chain are working together to optimise the application of local spending powers to transport priorities. 

Newly formed combined authorities are in some ways like start-up companies. While they have a strong history of delivering locally, many authorities now find themselves with the challenge of joining up across combined authority, geographic regions and beyond. This becomes an adaptive change challenge. It’s not about drawing new organisation charts and setting up processes or working groups. 

Collaborative behaviours become increasingly important to equip people to work across historic silos; they galvanise and motivate the delivery of transport investment programmes beyond their traditional ‘patch’. Although a challenge, embedding collaborative behaviours presents an incredible opportunity to drive real change, establish best practice and shared services on a scale not seen in a generation. It can allow us to respond to the devolution challenge of delivering growth and boosting productivity, and at the same time, address the fiscal challenges which authorities face in revenue budget reductions.  

But it doesn’t stop there. Devolved authorities in the Northern Powerhouse also need to collaborate with other transport authorities, agencies and operators, such as Network Rail, Highways England, HS2 and private developers. Joined up regional transport strategies are becoming ever so important in drawing together investment at local, regional, sub-regional and national levels. Momentum is building in this regard, but more must be done to better align local to regional priorities. With the advent of the new Mayoral Combined Authorities we will see a stronger voice into central government from the city regions. 

Joining up programmes is particularly important to ensure that we keep our cities and towns moving while we build and deliver new infrastructure. Historic approaches to managing disruption on some of our local transport networks, particularly roads, has to change. We need to embrace new ways of working, engage technology and look at how to prioritise investment to drive modal shift and smooth morning and evening peaks. Keeping our cities moving and open for business while we build and install the infrastructure the country so desperately needs.

Once arrangements for devolved transport planning powers are in place, the focus must rapidly move from start-up to delivery. Regional transport plans and the alignment of programmes are certainly essential and part of the solution. But don’t underestimate the importance of collaborative behaviours in making things work in practice.  


  • These themes will be explored in further detail within TfN’s Transforming the North conference which takes place in Harrogate on 21 June. The event is a collaboration between TfN and Highways UK, with Atkins, Jacobs, CH2M, Costain and Jacobs as private sector partners. For further details click here



Jason Pavey

Jason Pavey – Market Director for Local Transport, Atkins

Delivering improved outcomes through Intelligent Sponsorship and Client capability

Delivering improved outcomes through Intelligent Sponsorship and Client capability

As delegates at last year’s Highways UK conference heard, the £15bn investment in the strategic road network over the five year RIS1 period involves quadrupling of Highways England’s annual spend by 2021. This is a very welcome and much needed cash injection into a vital part of our national infrastructure. But, as was pointed out, it means that new ways of working will be needed. The opportunities and benefits offered by this fantastic level of investment are counterbalanced by the challenges that a five-year investment programme of this scale and intensity presents.

To put things in context, it is estimated that US$682bn is wasted annually on under-performing projects across the globe. The UK has seen its share of this underperformance over the years. But, of late, we are stopping convincing ourselves that we are awful at delivering major programmes and have started to regain our “Infrastructure Mojo” through the successes of the London 2012 Olympics, Crossrail and other schemes. This rediscovered sense of purpose and self-belief is an important ingredient in maintaining focus on, and momentum for, ongoing UK infrastructure investment to underpin and catalyse economic growth, regeneration and social cohesion. The outcome of the Brexit vote makes this more important than ever.

The capability of the public sector bodies that are responsible for selecting, developing and sponsoring infrastructure programmes, and acting as clients to their supply chains, is a critical factor. Their level of capability affects whether the right programmes are identified, the rate at which those programmes come to market, the level of market interest in the proposed schemes, the cost of private finance, contract pricing and, ultimately, the success or otherwise of those programmes in terms of whether they deliver the intended outcomes and benefits. The importance of these procuring bodies developing and applying the skills needed to operate as effective and intelligent Sponsors and Clients cannot, therefore, be overstated. 

This is further reinforced by recognising that, in relation to major infrastructure schemes, typically, the public sector ultimately bears the risk of programme failure, despite what supply contracts and financing structures might suggest. The failure of the London Underground InfraCo PPPs is a prime example. It is the public sector that ends up holding the baby and it must have the capability to mitigate this risk as effectively as possible.

And so, despite the prominent successes of London 2012, Crossrail and others, there remains a very real and ongoing concern in both the public and private sectors that not enough procuring authorities have enough of the required capabilities to act as intelligent Clients and Sponsors, especially where complex, £multibillion mega-programmes are concerned. A number of publications seek to highlight the skills needed and promulgate best practice, such as:


  • Infrastructure & Projects Authority and HM Treasury: Improving Infrastructure Delivery: Project Initiation Routemap
  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors: The Informed Infrastructure Client
  • National Audit Office: Initiating Successful Projects.


Encouraging things are happening in some key areas of the UK transport sector. For example, the DfT’s High Speed Rail Group has recognised its need to understand what it must be able to do in order to act as Intelligent Sponsor to HS2 Ltd, which is charged with delivering what is the largest transport infrastructure scheme in Europe. It has put in place an Intelligent Sponsor capability development programme to build its knowledge and capability to act credibly and intelligently as custodian of the HS2 Business Case, holding HS2 Ltd to account for its delivery and engaging with other stakeholders to realise the wider benefits of the scheme.

Highways England has similarly recognised the need for it to change its approach and build or reinforce its capabilities in certain key areas. Its Supply Chain Strategy is a case in point, where it is embarking on a focused, systematic programme to implement its new strategy and engage with its supply chain in a different way to deliver greater performance.

Whilst much remains to be done to build a sufficient level of infrastructure sponsorship and client capability across the UK public sector, the steps being taken in that regard by bodies such as DfT and Highways England are welcome.  Hopefully, they will form the basis of further capability enhancement across both organisations, as well as stimulating similar action by other procuring authorities.

Jonathan Moseley is a member of the Infrastructure sector leadership team within EY’s UK & Ireland Advisory practice. He has 26 years’ experience in the structuring, development and delivery of complex infrastructure schemes and recently led EY’s Intelligent Sponsor work with DfT’s High Speed Rail Group. He is EY’s account leader for Highways England. EY is a Gold Sponsor of the 2016 Highways UK Conference and will be participating in a number of sessions. EY has launched its Intelligent Client Thought Leadership piece as part of its Building Future Britain campaign.  It can be downloaded at


Jonathan Moseley

Jonathan Moseley – Executive Director, Advisory Services – infrastructure, EY

‘Autopilot’ Tesla fatality is a reminder to pace and structure autonomous car development

‘Autopilot’ Tesla fatality is a reminder to pace and structure autonomous car development

In late May of this year, Tesla announced that some 70,000 of its cars utilising its “Autopilot” assisted driving feature had driven 100 million miles on the road. This milestone was notable not only because it by far exceeded any competitors’ record but also because, as some commentators noted, on average, a fatality occurs on US roads every 100 million miles driven.

What has only just been reported however is that sadly the first fatality involving a Tesla in Autopilot had already occurred on 7 May in Florida when a Tesla Model S in Autopilot mode collided with a tractor-trailer, killing the Tesla driver. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation has now been opened.

Whilst the public response to this incident will undoubtedly be of interest to the Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) sector, it should be borne in mind that the cause (and the resilience of future mitigation) is currently unclear but the focus of any investigation is likely to be as much on Tesla’s approach to testing driver assistance features and software use as to the concept of CAV regulation.

Commentators and industry experts have regularly noted that Tesla’s startlingly successful vehicle programme (guided by its visionary founder, Elon Musk), has threatened to outstrip the pace of regulation in the US. Autopilot-enabled Tesla cars have been operating on an everyday basis on public roads since 2014 without significant regulatory impact.

In October 2015, an ‘over-the-air’ downloaded software patch gave the Autopilot feature to tens of thousands more existing owners of hardware-enabled Teslas in a way which appeared largely to have bypassed the NHTSA. Despite the fact that the Autopilot feature is expressly a test feature in “beta” and that, being a driver assistance tool, Tesla advises that drivers should at all times be alert and keep their hands on the wheel, there are numerous YouTube videos of drivers openly operating Teslas in Autopilot with little or no manual control and often dangerously and illegally.

This loose regulatory framework has facilitated a step change in the take up of autonomous features in vehicles but there will be some who say that the take up of driver assistance autonomous software features proceeded with too much haste and too little caution.

Disruptive innovation should after all only be ‘disruptive’ up to a point. It is probable that the regulatory position on existing vehicles with driver assistance features such as Autopilot and their testing will be reviewed with a view to tightening them up to ensure public safety.

Beyond mere driver assistance tools like Autopilot and looking ahead to true semi-autonomous or autonomous vehicles (where driver control is fully handed over to the vehicle system by design), authorities and regulators are also likely to be more proactive in the need to legislate and provide for common frameworks, standards and approaches to ensure public safety both in terms of hardware (eg sensors) and software (eg cyber-security).

In the UK, the Government’s policy paper “The Pathway to Driverless Cars” has provided a clear structured framework and approach towards the testing and eventual introduction of autonomous vehicles since February 2015. Proactive policy development is being supported by a number of publicly-funded pilot projects in the UK including in Greater Bristol, Greenwich, Milton Keynes and Coventry. The ultimate goal is to introduce autonomous vehicles against the backdrop of robust legal frameworks, insurance and safety standards already put in place.

Burges Salmon is an adviser to the VENTURER and FLOURISH driverless vehicle projects funded by Innovate UK. VENTURER and FLOURISH partners include Axa UK plc, Atkins, Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council.


Brian Wong

Brian Wong – Legal Director, Burges Salmon