Road User Voice – December 2015 – Road user director’s editorial

30 November 2015

Transport Focus recently held a Board meeting and conference in Gateshead; we were delighted to welcome as one of our key speakers Jim O’Sullivan, chief executive of Highways England. Addressing an audience of local stakeholders and transport users, he talked about the priorities for the new company: safety, customer, and delivery. He also outlined the investment that is planned for the motorways and trunk roads in the north east of England, including upgrading the A1 to – at long, long last – give a motorway all the way from London to Newcastle.

While we were in the north east, four of us took the opportunity to travel along the A1 north of Newcastle, part of which is due to become a dual-carriageway under the current Road Investment Strategy (RIS). This section seemed in pretty good condition from a user perspective, but a few issues caught our eye which we are following up with Highways England – you can read the full story (with pictures) here.

Information is key to any transport system – getting it right lets drivers and logistics businesses make better decisions. We met Highways England in Birmingham recently to understand how it plans to make better use of the huge ‘variable message signs’ on its network and to hear about how details of scheduled roadworks are compiled – road users tell us that the latter can’t always be relied on. Improving information to road users feels as if it should be low-hanging fruit for Highways England (relatively to building new roads, at least!) – it’s an area where we will continue to focus.

Some highlights of other things we’ve been up to.

  • I was delighted to help judge the customer experience category of Highways England’s supplier awards.
  • We have met the chief executive of the consortium that runs the M25 for Highways England (you may have seen Anthony Smith’s blog about our journey home).
  • We have presented to the Freight Transport Association’s transport manager conferences in Durham and Sheffield.
  • We attended Highways England’s National Road User Committee meeting.
  • Met the chief executive and chief operating officer of Roadchef.
  • Spoken at the Kier Highways area nine management conference.
  • I’ve attended my first meeting of the Department for Transport-led steering group for the second RIS 2020-2025.
  • We’ve had a productive couple of days at the Highways UK conference – and we have an article about that.

There’s certainly lots going on!

Guy Dangerfield
Road User Director


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