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Highways Agency to adopt Network Rail ownership model

  • 16 July 2013
  • By Chris Druce

The Highways Agency is to be transformed into a publically-owned company along the lines of Network Rail, in a bid to boost its effectiveness and operational efficiency.

The move could potentially bring £600m of savings by 2020/21 if adopted along side a series proposals outlined today (16 July) in the Action for Roads command paper, the government has said.

Key to achieving this will be moving the Highways Agency, an executive agency of the Department for Transport, beyond the day to day influence of ministers, allowing it to devote its full efforts to running the strategic road network.

The government has also promised long-term funding certainty for the agency, running from 2015 to 2021 (initially), as the current annual funding arrangement can be stop-start due to political considerations, which  makes it harder to secure efficiencies from contractors.

In parallel, a Roads Investment Strategy setting out plans for construction and maintenance of the network to 2021 will be published, in a bid to move away from short-termism in regards planning.

Karen Dee, FTA director of policy, welcomed the announcement and said: “Moving forward it is vital to have a method in place which enables the industry to monitor the new company in its meeting performance – in order to create confidence.”

The move was first mooted in last month’s spending review, which saw £9.5bn pledged for upgrades for road and transport upgrades.

Additional funding of £500m for electric vehicles by 2020 has also been announced today.


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