Office of Rail and Road
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ORR to undertake an investigation of National Highways’ performance

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has opened an investigation into the performance of National Highways, the company responsible for operating, maintaining and upgrading the strategic road network in England

  • The Office of Rail and Road has decided to investigate whether National Highways is taking every action that could reasonably be expected of it to meet its targets.
  • Since it was created, National Highways has generally achieved its aims and delivered well for road users. However, performance has dipped and some targets are not currently on track.
  • ORR’s assessment is intended to give ORR and National Highways a common understanding of what is causing the current dip in performance, and what can reasonably be achieved in the final year of the road period.

Since it was created, National Highways has generally achieved its aims and delivered well for road users. During this time, ORR has worked with the company to successfully resolve individual issues before they have significantly impacted road users.

ORR’s annual assessment of National Highways’ performance, published in July 2023, identified a number of potential risks, such as delivery of its capital portfolio and asset management strategy. Since then, ORR has observed that those risks have materialised, and performance has dipped across several areas.

ORR’s investigation will look at the root causes of National Highways’ current dip in performance, and whether the company has the right processes in place to deliver its agreed commitments by the end of the road period in March 2025. The investigation will look at whether the company has identified, and is taking, every action that could reasonably be expected of it to achieve the level of performance set by government in the road investment strategy, and at what can reasonably be achieved in the remaining months of the road period.   

ORR expects that lessons from this work will help to inform the appropriateness of performance commitments for National Highways in the third road period and support in the setting of the company’s targets to be challenging and deliverable.

Feras Alshaker, Director of Planning and Performance at ORR, said: 

“National Highways has generally delivered well for road users, but in recent months we have become concerned that its performance has dipped in a number of areas and issues are recurring.

“We are opening an investigation now to help ORR and National Highways achieve a common understanding of what is causing the current dip in performance, and whether it is still reasonable for us to expect the levels of performance set out in the second Road Investment Strategy. We can then put in place any appropriate measures before the end of this road period and set the company up for success in the next, delivering for road users and taxpayers.”

Notes to Editors

  1. ORR is the independent, statutory Highways Monitor set up under section 10 of the Infrastructure Act 2015. We have regulatory and enforcement powers to ensure that National Highways complies with its legal obligations under that Act.
  2. National Highways must comply with the Road Investment Strategy (RIS), as set out in section 3(6) of the Infrastructure Act 2015, comply with statutory directions and have regard to statutory guidance (primarily set out in the company’s licence) under section 6(3) of the Act.
  3. The current road period runs from April 2020 to March 2025. The next road period is planned to run from April 2025 to March 2030.
  4. ORR holds National Highways to account in line with our Holding to Account policy (March 2020): http://www.orr.gov.uk/sites/default/files/om/holding-highways-england-to-account-policy.pdf
  5. ORR’s investigation initiation letter to National Highways is available on our website: https://www.orr.gov.uk/media/25190 
Channel website: https://www.orr.gov.uk/

Original article link: https://www.orr.gov.uk/search-news/orr-undertake-investigation-national-highways-performance

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