Infrastructure Bill

Written evidence submitted by Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation (CIHT) (IB 09)

Dear Sir/Madam

Infrastructure Bill – Part 1 – Strategic Highways Companies

CIHT is a membership organisation representing over 13,000 people who work in the highways and transportation sector. CIHT members plan, design, build, operate and maintain best-in-class transport systems and infrastructure, whilst respecting the imperatives of improving safety, ensuring economic competitiveness and minimising environmental impact.

CIHT have previously welcomed the Department for Transport’s approach to the reform of the strategic road network contained in its Action for Roads proposal and wish to support the passage of the Infrastructure Bill through the Houses of Parliament. Our evidence for doing so is contained below.

CIHT believe that the creation of Strategic Highways Companies set out in the bill will have the following benefits;

1. Improving the management of the network

1.1. Certainty and continuity of investment over a sustained period is important if overall improvements to the network are to be delivered effectively. This need for certainty applies across the sector both at a "client "level and across the wider supply chain. There is evidence from both the UK and overseas to support this view.

1.2. Certainty will allow a more resilient network to be developed by allowing a longer term view of the network to be taken.

1.3. The creation of a Road Investment Strategy as set out in the bill and detailed by the Department creates that certainty and gives a clear specification for Highways England and its supply chain to deliver, together with the funding to do so. That clarity will bring significant benefits for both users of the network and wider stakeholders.

1.4. Government needs to provide the certainty required by the supply chain side of the sector to invest in resource and capability to deliver the investment envisaged. The Roads Investment Strategy sets out the minimum period of certainty that is required needs to be confirmed and be committed to quickly by all parties so that the Highways Agency can develop a robust pipeline of requirements for its supply chain. CIHT supports the enactment of the Infrastructure Bill.

2. Reforming the Highways Agency

2.1. The standard of highway expertise in the United Kingdom is very high and is recognised worldwide. Our networks are amongst the safest in the world and our professional standards are highly regarded. The United Kingdom has contributed significantly to the development of highways as an increasingly more efficient industry.

2.2. The creation of Strategic Highways Companies could be viewed as an incremental change to the management of the Strategic road network that builds on that expertise. Nevertheless the changes that are proposed do represent a boldness in approach that CIHT believes can be used effectively to deliver real improvements to the network over time.

2.3. The government needs to be bold in recognising the capabilities required of a reformed Highways Agency. In particular it needs to ensure that the importance of understanding how customer needs should be addressed in the new model for operation and be specific about how those needs are protected and monitored by a regulator or other arrangement. Those capabilities are likely to include a clear appreciation of customer requirements, understanding of wider stakeholder needs and an expanded commercial capability from other sectors. CIHT believe the Infrastructure Bill will enable those capabilities.

2.4. There is a need to maintain strong leadership through the process of change whilst the new requirements for the reformed Highways Agency are being fully defined and sourced, using the freedom of the new organisation to bring in new skills and capabilities. This will ensure that momentum on delivering the pipeline of investment set out in Action for Roads is maintained. CIHT believe the creation of Highways England is fulfilling that need.

2.5. A strategic highway company needs to develop an understanding of the wide range of purposes that the network has and further develop its customer relationship capabilities, bringing in capability from other sectors as required. It needs to build links across sectors to do so and should recognise the importance of linking to authorities with responsibility for the local road network and economic growth including Local Enterprise Partnerships and Local Transport Boards. The wide definition of the duties of the Strategic Highways Company set out in the Infrastructure Bill will help to achieve that but the role of the Monitor is ensuring the Company delivers in this regard will be important.

2.6. The role of the Strategic Highway Company in mitigating the effects of the network on both the environment and the safety of its users and people who work on the network is vital and CIHT support the particular clause of the Infrastructure Bill relating to this.

3. Meeting customer requirements and ensuring Value for Money

3.1. The issue of how the viewpoint of customers is taken into account in the development of the network is fundamental to real and lasting improvements. The role of the Watchdog as set out in the Infrastructure Bill is therefore supported by CIHT.

3.2. Clarity of whether the Strategic Highway Authority is achieving its objectives set out in the Road Investment Strategy or not is of critical importance as is setting the objectives of future Road Investment Strategies. CIHT welcome the role of the Monitor set out in the Bill in this regard.

Whilst not directly addressed by the Infrastructure Bill the following are key related areas;

4. Local Road network

4.1. CIHT will continue to work with the Department for Transport, government and all highway authorities in improving the local road network for all its users, including non-vehicular users. Nearly all journeys on the strategic road network begin and end on the local highway network and customers do not take a different view of the networks they travel on, a consistent appropriate standard of service delivery needs to be the aim.

5. Clear Strategy required

5.1. CIHT will continue to call for and work with the government to produce a National Transport Strategy that takes a coordinated approach to transport infrastructure which will encourage innovation, deliver economic growth and sustain economic growth, social and environmental benefits.

December 2014

Prepared 19th December 2014