All National Highways regions are currently performing ‘well below’ its target level for the accuracy and timeliness of notifications of overnight road closures, according to its monitor.
Only around half of all closures were notified correctly, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) revealed in its latest Benchmarking National Highways report, which outlines regional differences across the strategic road network (SRN).
By 2024-25, the last year of the second Road Investment Strategy (RIS 2), the government-owned company is required to ensure that, nationally, 90% of overnight road closures are published accurately, seven days in advance.
As reported in the ORR’s Annual Assessment of National Highways, the company only notified 55% of all closures correctly in 2020-21, the first year of RIS 2.
The ORR said it saw significant differences across England on this measure and that National Highways will still need to make substantial progress on road closure notification during Road Period 2 (2020-2025) to meet its 90% target.
The South East had the lowest percentage of accurately notifying road closures at 42%, while the best performing regions were the Midlands and South West at 66% and 64% respectively.
The ORR said that National Highways had increased the number of performance indicators the company makes public at a regional level from just five in 2019-20, to 22 in 2020-21 - a result of it ‘driving the need for greater transparency and data to be published’,
Road closure notifications were one of several indicators reported for the first time.
Sneha Patel, deputy director of highways at ORR, said: ‘Our annual benchmarking report this year has led to greater transparency around National Highways’ performance and will incentivise its regions to improve further.
‘We’ve now got a four-fold increase in the number of performance indicators that National Highways must report on: that’s a considerable step forward.
‘However, there continue to be significant regional differences and we expect National Highways to apply the lessons it has learned about what works well in one region to other parts of the country as part of the steps it will take to meet all national-level targets by 2024 25.’
The ORR said it saw most of the regions performing ‘close to or beyond’ the national-level target of ensuring that 95% of the network does not require further investigation for road surface maintenance, the exception being the East of England, at 92% - two percentage points lower than 2019-20.
Delays on the SRN reduced across all regions in 2020-21 because of the fall in traffic caused by restrictions in response to the pandemic, but the South East still had the highest levels of delays, with an average delay of 7.9 seconds per vehicle per mile compared to the East of England and North West, which had delays of six seconds per vehicle per mile.