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Transport User Voice – December – Roads to keep lorries and coaches moving

29 November 2018

In some of its first business-focused road user research, Transport Focus has found only half of freight, logistics, delivery and coach operators are satisfied with the way motorways and major ‘A’ roads meet their needs. Lorry operators move over 90 per cent of the nation’s freight but are especially unhappy about road surface quality, the management of disruption and the facilities at service areas on these routes.

In research among managers in the freight and coach industries published recently, 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 roadworks 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 layout of the roads approaching services on ‘A’ roads is another real concern for this important group of road users, while service areas themselves are widely seen as both poor value for money and short on suitable secure parking space.

Transport Focus believes Highways England needs to move further and faster to ensure this major group of road users are better served. It argues that Highways England should consider establishing a modest operational unit focused solely on meeting the needs of the coach, freight and logistics sectors, led by specialists with a thorough knowledge of the sector and its needs.

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).

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