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Roads management must improve to keep the country on the move, say coach and delivery companies in new survey

Latest user research from Transport Focus into the roads network managed by Highways England shows only half of freight, logistics, delivery and coach operators are satisfied with the way motorways and major ‘A’ roads meet their needs.

Lorry operators are especially unhappy about road surface quality, the management of disruption and the facilities at service areas on these routes.

Launching the first Logistics and Coach Manager Survey: England’s strategic roads, Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, said:

“This new research confirms that for delivery companies – who move 91 per cent of the nation’s freight – and for coach operators and their passengers, it’s critical the road network is well-managed in terms of their needs.

“The costs imposed by poor road surfaces on freight is the issue of most common concern to fleet operators – almost one third of coach and logistics managers surveyed volunteered comments on this problem affecting their bottom line.

“This is closely followed by poor incident management: Information about delays and disruption provided in real time to road users by Highways England must be improved, particularly where accidents close roads or road works extend journey times, especially at night when so much freight is on the move.

“Logistics managers also want Highways England to keep the time-critical nature of their operations much more front of mind when managing incidents that disrupt traffic, since their drivers must adhere to regulations that tightly govern their hours behind the wheel.”

The survey also confirms marked dissatisfaction within these sectors with roadside services – widely seen as both poor value for money, and short on suitable secure parking space.

Transport Focus reiterates its call for Highways England to consider establishing a modest operational unit focused solely on meeting the needs the coach, freight and logistics sectors, led by specialists with a thorough knowledge of the sector and its needs.

Key findings

  • One quarter (26 per cent of managers taking part in the survey were dissatisfied, and only half (52 per cent) were satisfied, with how Highways England’s roads serve their business.
  • Many businesses don’t feel their needs are considered sufficiently well by Highways England, especially in relation to how and when roadworks take place. Managers want to know about roadworks sooner, especially where roads will be closed entirely.
  • Managers of coach and logistics operators think poor road surfaces are costing them money by pushing up their operating costs.
  • They also believe their obligations to adhere to regulations that govern drivers’ hours and the time-critical nature of their operations are not sufficiently front of mind for Highways England when managing incidents that disrupt traffic.
  • Two-fifths of the organisations that participated in this survey say their business is threatened by disruption on the road network because they can rarely extend contingency time. Two-thirds need to arrive within one hour of the time specified in their contractual agreements.
  • Freight and coach businesses want more parking spaces and better vehicle security at roadside services, and for these facilities to offer better value for money.

 

Transport Focus will use these findings to press Highways England to place more emphasis on the needs of these crucial road user sectors.

Transport Focus intends to repeat this survey at regular intervals and is working to ensure the results inform the way in which the performance of Highways England will be measured from 2020 to 2025 (the next road investment period).

 

Notes for editors
For more information, contact Hannah Pearce: hannah.pearce@transportfocus.org.uk or 07918626125.

The freight logistics and coach industries are key users of the motorways and major ‘A’ roads managed by Highways England. Transport Focus, the independent road user watchdog, represents the interests of all users of these roads, including businesses moving goods and passengers.

The survey was developed with assistance from the Confederation of Passenger Transport, the Freight Transport Association and the Road Haulage Association.

 

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