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.


UK Connected and Automated Mobility Roadmap to 2030

UK Connected and Automated Mobility Roadmap to 2030

Author: Mark Cracknell – Head of Technology, Zenzic

What is the roadmap?

Mark Cracknell

Roadmaps provide a blueprint of the future. They offer an idea of what the future will hold, creating valuable insight into what different capabilities are on the horizon, and indeed when they will become available to address future challenges. That is exactly what the UK Connected and Automated Mobility Roadmap to 2030 delivers, by pinpointing over 500 milestones required to get self-driving vehicles on Britain’s roads at scale by 2030.

Launched on Tuesday this week, the roadmap is truly unique. It not only outlines outputs or Milestones, but additionally the interdependencies between them. Ensuring this roadmap’s predictions for the impending future are realistic means it has been critical to consider the implications across society. That includes people, infrastructure, vehicles and, of course, the services from which society draws its countless benefits.

Featuring over 250 contributors from 150 organisations

Each organisation working in this space has been defining their own objectives and path to the future. This is entirely understandable. But what can be recognised is each of these visions of the future and routes forward are not aligned. The efforts of all these organisations are not pushing towards the same goal. Over 250 people from over 150 organisations have worked with Zenzic to do exactly that. They have built upon more than a dozen well-respected thematic roadmaps to deliver what is intended as a tool for decision makers, policy makers and investors.

There is a collective benefit in striving towards one single vision – combined with a common understanding of how we get there. This is the premise of the UK Connected and Automated Mobility Roadmap to 2030. It is intended to be a neutral, independent, collaboratively built and jointly owned agreement on the vision of the future we all want to see.

The roadmap is cross-organisational in its creation. As a result, the roadmap provides a single agreed vision for the future.

One vision guides our journey to 2030

If we are to work together on our journey towards a safe and sustainable future in 2030, we must first define where exactly we are headed. The roadmap is underpinned by the 2030 Vision:

“By 2030, the UK will be benefitting from proven connected and automated mobility, with an increasingly safe and secure road network, improved productivity and greater access to transport for all.

Next-generation services and technology are designed and developed in the UK, powered by high value skills and a strong supply chain, and driven by public demand, we are a world leader.”

The aspirational vision of the future, highlights where the CAM sector wants to be and the benefits to be realised by 2030.

Four Themes that structure the roadmap

The roadmap is a tool that can be utilised by all in CAM. As such, it has been vital to ensure it is comprehensive enough to make the 2030 Vision a reality. The roadmap has been created with four key Themes at its core. These themes do not focus on just one area, for example, technology, but instead encompass a number of areas.

Society and People – takes a people-centric approach and is the primary driving force behind the roadmap. It covers societal mechanisms such as Vehicle Approvals and Licencing and Use.

Vehicles – the first of two technology-focussed Themes. It looks at the technology required to enable connected and self-driving vehicles, covering aspects such as the automated driving system (ADS) and sensors, as well as the components of vehicle design that are impacted by changes in use.

Infrastructure – the second of the technology Themes. It deals with the environment in which connected and self-driving vehicles will operate.

Services – is an outcome-focussed theme. In some senses, it is the culmination of the three other Themes. Services articulates how vehicles (and infrastructure) contribute to achieving the vision to improve the mobility of people and goods.

Where can you access the report?

Want to learn more about the insights delivered by the UK Connected and Automated Mobility Roadmap to 2030? Here’s how you can access the roadmap assets:

Interactive roadmap – The interactive roadmap delivers a comprehensive yet bespoke overview of the path towards 2030, allowing all to find their way through the roadmap. Access at

Roadmap report – the written report provides a narrative and context for the roadmap, complementing the interactive version. Download at

Insight workshop – enables you to find your own route through the roadmap. If you are interested in arranging a workshop or to book a meeting, contact

The Infrastructure theme of the roadmap shows how important early engagement is. There is no time to wait for connected and self-driving vehicles to appear before we adapt our existing products and services. The voice of the Highways community is a critical part of the early exploratory discussions of how legislation affects vehicles and services, which all rely on the right infrastructure at the right time. The danger of a standoff, where everyone is waiting for someone else to move first, will damage the UK’s position as a world-leader in CAM. Collaboration is at the heart of the UK’s global USP and we must all play our part in it.

Mark Cracknell is head of technology at Zenzic. Zenzic is curating the Connected and Automated Mobility Hub at Highways UK at the NEC on 6/7 November. Its programme will explore many of the infrastructure related themes and interdependencies contained within the roadmap.


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

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

Joining up the good work

Joining up the good work

The highways sector has so far failed to move on from its traditional, largely manual ways of working. We have seen productivity flatline for over 20 years, struggled to deliver better customer service and communications and still impact the health, safety and wellbeing of our people through our working practices.

Collectively, we need a coherent industry-wide approach that combines our individual efforts, tackles the challenges we all face and delivers a highways sector that embraces the fourth industrial revolution. We need to learn from alternative industries away from the transport sector whose approaches are leading the way, such as Amazon’s 360 degree focus to improve technology which delivers greater customer service in a highly-competitive, rapidly-changing environment.

I want our industry to start this journey with Vision 2030. Investing in new initiatives and learning from other industry leaders, we can transform the highways sector.

We work in a people-centric business and I am passionate about the safety of my team. It cannot be right that we still ask our workforce to operate alongside a live carriageway.

For me, there are clear opportunities to remove our people from harm. We must harness the rapid advancement of technology and move quickly to use automation and digital solutions to deliver services differently. However, we must also build a supportive safety culture which enables our employees and our supply chain partners to protect themselves and others.

An engaged and empowered workforce is crucial in order to achieve Amey’s aim to create better places to live, work and travel, and Vision 2030 will achieve this.

To achieve results on a larger scale will mean breaking free from the siloes of technology to change the ‘resistance’ culture of the sector and the ways we operate. New technology is rife and right in front of us. The art of the possible is no longer the future but the here and now, and it gives us a massive opportunity to do things differently.

Across the industry, we are all working on isolated initiatives and Vision 2030 aims to join all of this good work up. The use of technology is giving us the opportunity to drive a culture shift across the sector. It is a culture shift that underpins not only greater efficiency, but also a new approach on health, safety and well-being. It also brings forward opportunities for greater diversity in our industry as the sector needs individuals with digital skills as well those with physical strength.

There is an understanding that change is needed. Vision 2030 focuses on what is required to achieve a notable shift in service delivery to engage and excite the next generation.

James Haluch is talking further about Vision 2030 on the Burges Salmon stage on Wednesday 7 November at 13.50


James Haluch

James Haluch – Highways Managing Director, Amey

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

Change is in the air for logistics

Change is in the air for logistics

Freight and logistics is a highly reactive industry which operates on tight profit margins, and as such is highly risk averse and resistant to change. However, the rising clean air agenda, with its revised focus on heavy goods vehicles as defined in the Government’s recent Road to Zero strategy, and the increasingly demanding consumer, are driving the industry towards rapid change.

Recent TRL research on ‘The Future of Freight’, and our ongoing industry engagement within the sector through both ECOStars (a fleet recognition scheme) and the Government’s Low Emissions Freight and Logistics Trial (LEFT), suggests that market forces will be highly formative in the sector. This could lead to changes in operational practices and the vehicles used to provide services.

The most dominant force likely to shape the industry over the coming years is the clean air agenda which is being imposed at the local level in the form of Clean Air Zones (CAZ).

The tight margins on which the freight and logistics industry operates makes it highly sensitive to economic change, therefore the charges introduced as part of CAZ being implemented within the UK’s most polluted cities will force operators to consider new cost-effective solutions.

In a similar fashion to the larger nation-wide bus operators, larger multi-national and national freight and logistics operators will likely redistribute vehicle fleets compliant with CAZ emissions standards (Euro VI and ultra-low emissions vehicle technologies) within CAZ cities; resulting in lesser performing vehicles being deployed to non-CAZ cities and the countryside.

Operators who are unable to stomach the costs of fleet upgrades and who are more risk averse to the purchase of new vehicle propulsion technologies will likely seek solutions such as urban consolidation centres whereby the final journey is made by the consolidation centre operator using electric vehicles which are well-suited to short-range deliveries within urban areas, thereby avoiding charges and maintaining business-as-usual. This model will probably result in a larger embedded delivery cost for consumers in CAZ cities, and shift the risks of cleaner vehicle investments onto other operators.

Whilst some operators will adapt to the new legislation there will be some for which the impact of the CAZ agenda will be too much; independent operators are likely to be the casualties of the clean air agenda. We have already witnessed a number of small operators electing to go out of business in anticipation of CAZ.

If this trend were to continue nationwide it is likely that the industry will take the form of fewer, large logistics operators providing a larger range of services over wider areas. Although controversial and anti-competitive, this may result in a more sustainable sector since the provision of greater and broader services by fewer companies would allow operators to consolidate shipping volumes into fewer (potentially cleaner) vehicles. This would have the combined effect of delivering emissions reductions and importantly reductions in traffic volumes which are threatening the capacity of urban networks, which in turn are hampering the economic development of urban areas.

The second most influential force shaping the freight and logistics industry is the notion of on-demand freight driven by customer demand. Such attitudes have forced the industry to adopt otherwise unsustainable operations which result in poor utilisation of lorries, and a growth in freight vehicles on the roads. Under-utilisation of the available load space within lorries is not a new issue and has been one which operators have sought to address, but have been unable to resolve effectively due to poor knowledge of where and when empty running miles will occur between operators.

New vehicle technologies such as connected and autonomous systems, provide a means to overcome this issue. In a world where all vehicles are tracked and monitored by networked devices it becomes possible to identify exactly where and when freight vehicles are going, along with the prospective space which will become available as its delivery round is completed.

Such visibility of space would enable an automated/autonomous system to dynamically reschedule a freight vehicle to make additional collections and deliveries along its route as and when new customer demand occurs. Such technological applications could reduce the number of vehicles required on the roads whilst also reducing the number of vehicle miles generated as a result of diverting vehicles within the vicinity of customer demand to make collections.

The combination of new vehicle propulsion technologies, and connected and autonomous technology applications, are enabling the freight and logistics industry to adapt and change to the increasingly demanding and environmentally conscious society of the future.

TRL is currently involved in research that includes HelmUK, the UK’s first HGV platooning trial which will see three articulated lorries equipped with automated following technology on the UK roads within the next two years; the Low Emissions Freight and Logistics Trial, which is trialling 19 low and zero emissions vehicle technologies nationwide including biomethane fuels, hydrogen-dual fuel and electric vehicle technologies; and a study of autonomous urban freight vehicles.

While the widescale adoption of such solutions may be somewhat distant, our work at TRL clearly demonstrates a strong willingness for the industry to adapt and evolve for the future into an industry potentially very different from the one we see today.

Gavin Bailey is Technical Lead and Business Development Manager for Transportation Sustainability & Operations at TRL. He is speaking on the future of freight from the Burges Salmon stage at 16.30 on 7 November


Dr Gavin Bailey

Dr Gavin Bailey – Technical Lead, TRL

Transforming the narrative for better local roads

Transforming the narrative for better local roads

Costing £400Bn, local roads are the UK’s most valuable asset. As trades routes, roads they have been the life blood of economies for millennia. Thanks to buses, cars, coaches, bikes and walking, roads make possible access to education, health care and work.

More complex journeys and mode choices are possible on historic roads but with it have come the disease of obesity, toxic air and congestion – costing the UK over £50Bn each and every year. As one of Europe’s largest economies, Britain also has the largest waistline.

A high quality public realm is therefore essential to support walking and cycling. This will release road capacity for medium and longer distance trips that have no current alternative.

Society is however changing and just as car use has dominated the last few decades so now we see the rise of Mobility as a Service, increased rail travel and a marked reduction in car use by those under 35 in our main cities.

The absence of a UK freight strategy causes poor policy and planning on interurban choices and the neglect of the ‘last mile’ impacts the heart of towns and villages. New thinking is needed to support buses.

Funding, innovation, and collaboration

As a result of successive Comprehensive Spending Reviews, the last decade has seen local authority revenue budgets reduce by as much as 40% which has affected front line service delivery. However, over this period Local Government and particularly Local Highway Authorities have adapted, and adopted new technology to overcome the challenges faced through new techniques and low cost interventions.

Our understanding and application of Asset Management has also radically improved decision making. Detailed choices can be more simply presented as to how, within a specified budget, different local outcomes can be modelled and long term value ensured.

Responding to the recent Transport Select Committee inquiry into the funding and governance of local roads, the Local Government Technical Advisors Group identified five key priorities that many in the industry recognise as key to future success:

· Redefine the Pothole Backlog

· Multiyear settlement

· TotEx: tackling the revenue Vs Capital dilemma

· One Single Funding Stream for Highway Authorities

· Future of Condition Surveys and Asset Information

The UK must grasp the 4th Industrial Revolution – faster fibre under our roads and streetlights for 5G and car charging. The pace of change and expectation on Councils for ever more innovative thinking continues to grow.

Building resilience into the way we work

“Transforming the Narrative” seeks to create fresh thinking that applies technology and transformation to how we create more mobility on better quality roads and footways. Aside from new approaches to funding we need a more resilient network.

To quote from the report, here are some of the areas we address:

“Society demands yet more from our aged asset and ever more utilities are placed under our roads and above our street lights. We must understand how we can safeguard travel and communication in light of increased demand and expectation but with ever growing fragility…

“There is a worrying lack of awareness as a sector on how to respond to ever more frequent and intense weather. The Met Office has now updated advice that states a severe weather event at least every three years and that will be 30% more intense. Our assets and our communities are ill equipped for this…

“Political geography is not the right scale to respond to major and sustained weather impacts. We need new and fresh thinking to scale up expertise to provide better response within limited funding. Winter maintenance must no longer be about snow ploughs and salt stocks but instead about multi skilled professionals working 24/7 to support communities during severe storms, floods and fires.”…

The report addresses 12 priorities and arms LGTAG and its members with practical means upon which existing roads and bridges can be upgraded in support of our aim of providing a decent basic service level for users of local roads and footways. Equally the report urges a re-think on how we build better mobility that offers a lower environmental footprint and reduces sedentary lifestyles.

The full report ‘Transforming the Narrative’ can be downloaded here

John Lamb is President of the Local Government Technical Advisers Group. John will be discussing these issues in the Future Proofing Local Authority Roads panel session in the Jacobs Main Theatre at 09.30 on 8 November.

LGTAG member Trevor Collett will be sharing his work ‘Measuring and monitoring the condition of our highway network, SRN and local’ at 11.10am in the Tarmac Materials and Asset Management Dome, also on 8 November.


John Lamb

John Lamb – President LGTAG

Listening to the road user

Listening to the road user

Adopting the maxim “what gets measured gets managed” implies by association that what hasn’t been tracked or measured properly is missed and consequently doesn’t get managed effectively.

In the transport sector, listening to the views of passengers and other road users is essential if operators are to find out – and deliver – what their customers need or want. It follows from this that measuring satisfaction forms a crucial element of understanding what the issues that really matter. It also helps those providing transport infrastructure and services to manage and to plan real, positive changes for the user.

Consequently, user satisfaction research has become a core activity for Transport Focus over the many years it has worked to bring the voice of the user to those who provide rail, bus and tram services. Since 2015, the organisation has also represented the interests of those using the A roads and the Strategic Road Network managed by Highways England. Since being given this expanded remit we have undertaken many research studies focusing on a range of issues relevant to road users, all of which are available on our website.

These include topics such as users’ experiences and needs when caught up in delays; disruption caused by incidents or roadworks; their views on using smart motorways; and even the perennial road surface quality.

Earlier this year we published the second edition of our annual Motorway Services User Survey (MSUS), which enabled the industry to see how motorway users rate the facilities they are offered at service areas up and down the country. Results have already informed some major improvements for users and will help to drive up satisfaction further over time.

Transport Focus also knows that our motorways and A roads are used by many different people, with varying needs and expectations. That is why we will be publishing more research in the coming months looking at the experience of disabled road users, as well as that examining how to measure the satisfaction of cyclists, pedestrians and equestrians who use, travel alongside or cross over these roads.

At this year’s Highways UK, we will launch the Strategic Roads User Survey (SRUS) – our most significant survey of road user opinion since we became engaged with the sector in 2015. It is an entirely new national survey, with results available on the new Transport Focus data hub, that will provide useful information to Highways England and others in the sector, helping them focus on improving the things that matter to road users. Meanwhile, the current National Road Users’ Satisfaction Survey(NRUSS) will continue until March 2020.

SRUS is far more than just a replacement for NRUSS, however. It has been built differently, gathers data from interviews with far more road users from across the country, and will support more detailed analysis. SRUS will allow data to be interrogated or ‘sliced’ in many different ways, depending on individual needs – for example by road, region, time of travel and category of road user. This ensures that anyone, from a fleet manager to a maintenance contractor or member of the public, can go in via the online data hub to examine information from a range of perspectives. Overall satisfaction, journey time, management of roadworks, road surface quality, feelings about safety and driver information at both a national, regional or even specific road level will all be available at the touch of a button.

By providing a more sophisticated means to access a wealth of data about road user satisfaction, we believe that Highways England and others will have a much clearer understanding of where they need to concentrate their efforts to meet the expectations and the needs of road users.

Anthony Smith and Roads Minister Jesse Norman MP will launch the new Strategic Roads User Survey (SRUS) on 7 November at 11.10 on the Burges Salmon stage at Highways UK 2018. 


Anthony Smith

Anthony Smith – Chief Executive, Transport Focus

Designated Funds – expanding our horizons and yours

Designated Funds – expanding our horizons and yours

Since 2015 Highways England has been doing more in dedicated sectors right across the country thanks to Designated Funds. These are five ring-fenced budgets that are driving us to do more than the essentials, delivering better schemes that serve the whole community and not just road users.

The five funds target areas from air quality to water quality, cycling to buses, to innovative ideas using new techniques, materials and suppliers. We are aiming to make a real difference to people’s lives with these funds by making our network blend into the environment better, by making it safer to cross – for people and wildlife – and by protecting neighbours from noise and pollution.

We have made a good start, delivering improvements such as major flood protection at Catterick, noise barriers and home insulations across the country.  We have unlocked five sites for home and job creation. We have improved cycle routes like the upgrade to Birchanger cycle path at Stansted, which now provides direct, safe access to and from the airport, college and local areas.  

Our plans don’t stop there – we are more ambitious still. We want to develop more integrated cycle networks and bus facilities that support and encourage modal choice. We want to provide better wildlife habitat creation and catchment flood protection measures. 

We want to innovate in what we do, how we do it and who we do it with. In short, we want to use designated funds to get better at the essentials and make the novel normal.

If you are interested in helping us realise our ambition, come and speak to us at Highways UK where we are holding a drop-in clinic on both days. Members of our team will be available to hear your ideas and suggestions for designated funds. We can provide a first review of any proposals you have, help discuss your next steps and answer any questions you have. You can find details of our funds and criteria for funding at

Vinita Hills is Highways England’s Designated Funds Director. Vinita will be presenting some of work Highways England has achieved through Designated Funds at the Highways England Theatre on 7 November at 12pm.  


Vinita Hill

Vinita Hill – Designated Funds Director, Highways England

Connecting the South East

Connecting the South East

It’s possible that you haven’t yet heard of Transport for the South East (TfSE). It is the youngest of the four emerging organisations vying to become Sub-national Transport Bodies (STBs) under the Government’s plan to give regions new powers to transform transport in their areas.

We see TfSE as a partnership to improve the transport network for all and grow the economy of the whole South East area. Established in June 2017, it covers an area stretching from the English Channel to the border of London, and from the Kent coast to Berkshire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Not only does this area include major airports, ports, roads and rail routes, it is also a powerful economic motor for the whole of the UK – adding £200 billion a year to the national economy, which is more than Scotland and Wales combined.

Quite simply TfSE is a single voice for strategic transport needs in the South East. It has already provided its initial view on priorities for the next road investment strategy (RIS 2), which recognises the significance of the area as an international gateway with more passenger and freight movements than any other region in England.

The performance of the transport network in the South East has a direct impact on the economic success of the whole country; the South East connects us to the rest of the world and provides crucial access for business and trade. In fact London’s success is due in part to the infrastructure around it which allows the movement by road, rail, air and sea for the skills, services and products it needs. The South East can support other major cities across the country to thrive using its access to global markets and opportunities to support them. Without the right investment against our clear priorities, the country will fail to achieve its full economic potential.

This is why work on our economic connectivity review is so important to both the region and the country. This work will shape our forthcoming transport strategy, providing the clarity between infrastructure investment and economic growth. We are striking out at a time when the very way in which we travel is on the cusp of a revolution. With no new conventional diesel or petrol vehicles by 2040 and current atmospheric concentrations of CO2 above 400ppm, our transport strategy will look to support and prioritise cleaner transport and alternative forms of travel.

Our economic connectivity review is the springboard for our transport strategy. We know the South East is a powerful driver for the UK economy and the nation’s major international gateway for people and businesses. Our transport strategy will build upon the economic connectivity review with the blueprint for a quality, integrated transport system that makes us more productive and competitive, improves the quality of life for all and protects the environment.

We will be launching the economic connectivity review at the Connecting the South East event at the new Farnborough International Exhibition and Conference Centre on 8 May. The event includes a supporting exhibition and it has already secured strong industry support in the form of headline sponsorship from Jacobs, Balfour Beatty, Costain and Elgin.

This will be an excellent opportunity for partners and stakeholders across the public and private sector to not only understand the ambition and opportunity but also engage with TfSE to test and challenge our conclusions.

We have already achieved much. Representatives of our Local Enterprise Partnerships sit on our board, reflecting the vital link LEPs have with the businesses we are looking to support through our infrastructure planning. We also recognise the importance of the natural capital within the South East, not least our varied protected landscapes, and have ensured a place on the board for a representative who speaks for this vital interest.

We have an amazing opportunity to set our future economy in the right direction. Harnessing new technological advances, building on best practice and showing how transport connectivity can provide a prosperous future is what we’re about. The priorities we set will be the catalysts for inward investment, for new housing, for jobs. Our partnership will play its role in preparing the country for a new economic era.

Councillor Keith Glazier is Leader of East Sussex County Council and Chair of Transport for the South East

Connecting the South East takes place in Farnborough on 8 May, in association with Essential Infrastructure Events, the organiser of Highways UK. The event is free to attend and by invitation. Please email to register your interest in attending. If you would like to know more about exhibiting please email


Cllr Keith Glazier

Cllr Keith Glazier – Chair Transport for the South East and Leader East Sussex County Council

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