Transport for London
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Green light for London to charge utility companies who dig at the busiest times and cause congestion

Transport for London introduces targeted and avoidable charge for digging up Capital's most congested areas.

  • Groundbreaking scheme is the latest in a raft of measures introduced by the Mayor to help cut congestion caused by disruptive roadworks on London's streets
  • Funding generated by scheme ploughed back into innovative methods to further reduce disruption associated with roadworks

London has become the first city in the UK to charge utility companies for the amount of time that they dig up the Capital's busiest roads.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has championed the scheme and expects it to help cut congestion on the Capital's roads by encouraging companies to carry out works in less disruptive ways. 

Minimal disruption

As of yesterday TfL is able to charge utility firms up to £2,500 a day for working in congested areas and at busy times of the day.

The scheme covers over 200 miles (57 per cent) of the TfL road network, covering the areas most susceptible to major roadwork disruption.

TfL is not exempt from the rules and the new scheme will also ensure that their works are delivered with minimal disruption.

Currently, around 70 per cent of TfL works are carried out outside of peak hours, compared to around 20 per cent of utility works.

Take action

By encouraging companies to carry out their work overnight or during off-peak hours, all road users - including drivers, cyclists and bus passengers - will benefit from more reliable journey times and less disruption.

More than 270 Metropolitan Police Service Traffic-trained Police Community Support Officers, who are funded by TfL and patrol the TfL roads on a daily basis, will play a key role in monitoring works under the Lane Rental scheme.

Together with TfL officials, they will monitor roadworks to ensure promoters are working during operational hours and take any action required should they spot bad practices by the companies responsible for the works.

Any additional revenue raised by the scheme once operating costs have been recovered will be put towards measures that could reduce disruption from roadworks, to be jointly overseen by TfL and the major utility companies.

Restricts works

The introduction of this groundbreaking scheme is the latest strand of work to be introduced in London to reduce the disruption caused by roadworks on the Capital's roads.

By April 2012, serious and severe disruption caused by roadworks on London's red routes was down by almost 40 per cent since permitting was introduced in January 2010.

This was a result of closer working with the boroughs and utility companies, the introduction of the roadworks permitting scheme, a reduction in the roadworks cap which restricts the number of works that can be carried out at any one time, and the Report IT system which enables Londoners to name and shame bad practice.

The lane rental scheme will further build on this, with the target of reducing disruption by a further 33 per cent or 165 hours of disruption a year by 2015.

Vital addition

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, said: 'Four years ago we declared war on the disruptive roadworks that drive motorists nuts, are bad for our buses and a source of serious economic inefficiency, and I am pleased to say we have already made some significant advances.

'Since battle commenced in earnest with the introduction of our permitting scheme in 2010 disruption is down 40 per cent.

'Lane rental is a vital addition to our arsenal. Setting the meter running the moment the first cone appears will finally make utilities understand the full economic cost of their work.

'It will encourage companies to work round the clock, team up and share trenches or develop new technology to speed up their work. Lane rental will keep traffic moving, and promote peace on our roads.'

Pioneering scheme

Local Transport Minister Norman Baker said: 'Everyone who uses London's roads is acutely aware of how frustrating it is to find major routes being dug up in the middle of the rush hour.

'The delays caused by roadworks are inconvenient and expensive, which is why we have authorised a pioneer lane rental scheme in the Capital to see whether these delays can be cut.

'I hope that this scheme will encourage those who need to do road works to get them finished faster as well as reducing disruption for those using London's roads and I look forward to seeing the results of this project.'

Money raised through the Lane Rental scheme helps fund a joint research project set up last year by the Department for Transport and TfL to develop new technology to reduce the disruption caused by roadworks.

Innovative methods

The 18-month project, run by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), is examining innovative engineering techniques that could see utilities use temporary road surfacing methods such as plating, fast-setting replacement road surfaces or more innovative methods such as core and vac techniques, which allows utility works to be carried out under the road surface without the need to excavate a large area of the road surface.

All these methods would allow both TfL and utility companies to carry out more work at quieter times, meaning that more roads could be re-opened during peak traffic periods; cutting delays and disruption across the Capital.

Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport at TfL, said: 'Our lane rental scheme allows us to encourage more roadworks on the Capital's busiest roads to take place outside the busiest hours, cutting unnecessarily prolonged and disruptive roadworks from our road network.

'By using any surplus raised to discover new and innovative working methods, TfL and the utility companies can further ensure that works take place outside of the charging periods, allowing all to benefit greatly.'

Notes to editors:

  • TfL ran a five week shadow scheme from 10 April 2012 whereby utility companies have been informed of any charges they would have incurred under Lane Rental for carrying out their works
  • Londoners can report disruptive or badly managed roadworks by visiting, or by using a GPS enabled mobile device to tweet @report_it with the hashtag #roadworks. Enquiries will be sent directly to the highway authority responsible, ensuring that direct and swift action can be taken
  • Information from TRL on the innovation fund can be found here
  • On 21 September 2011, The Mayor of London launched his Roadworks Pledge for London, which states that all roadworks in London should: 
    • Be tidy and safe with a clutter-free site so it is safe for pedestrians, cyclists and other road users
    • Always explain what's happening through detailed, clear and consistent signage 
    • Always have activity on site or, if not, explain why (eg concrete is drying)
    • Take up as little road/pavement space as possible with a compact working area and eliminating the unnecessary use of cones, safety barriers and storage of materials
    • Help keep London moving by working outside peak hours, re-opening the road to traffic at peak times and, where this is not possible, working 24/7 or extended hours to complete works as quickly as possible. Diversion routes should be clearly signed
  • A total of 27 London boroughs and TfL are now fully signed up to the London Permit Scheme, covering 80 per cent of the Capital's roads. The remaining six boroughs in London have now submitted their applications to the DfT, with a look to have all of London's road covered by September 2012. Once complete, the initiative will be the largest permitting scheme in Britain, covering around 13,000 km of road
  • Between April 2011 and April 2012, TfL granted 51,444 permits and refused 18,871 permit applications for roadworks on the TfL Road Network
  • In September 2011, TfL reduced the roadworks 'cap' that it operates, which is the maximum number of roadworks it allows on its roads within a four week period, by a further 10 per cent from 4,170 sets of works to 3753 sets of works. The cap, which applies to all works on the TLRN was first introduced by TfL in 2010 and reduced the maximum number of roadworks allowed to take place at any one time on its roads by 20 per cent
  • It is felt that the introduction of a similar cap by the London boroughs on their strategic roads would encourage better coordination between utility companies, and help significantly reduce the amount of disruptive roadworks in London

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