Road transport revolution for the masses

2020 is a big year for transport infrastructure in the UK. The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised “a transport revolution” to reshape the national economy and, beyond yesterday’s announcement on the go ahead for HS2, says that in the next few weeks his government will be setting out more details of this revolution: “because we all know the potential of transport to change your life and the life of your town or city.”

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The Prime Minister’s imperative is to demonstrate that his government is listening to voters in the former Labour northern constituencies that helped secure his landslide election victory last December.

So alongside such grand projects as HS2 and bringing forward by five years the date for the phasing out of internal combustion engine cars to 2035, we also heard this week about new investment in buses and cycle networks. In part this is because the PM needs to put money into transport improvements that can be realised within the lifetime of this parliament. Extending that thought, it’s looking an increasingly safe bet that there will be some highly significant announcements on the funding of local authority roads in the near future.

But it’s not all cherry pie. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps recently announced a safety review of Smart Motorways after media reports linked the programme with an increase in road deaths. Shapps says: ““we must make them at least as safe, if not safer, otherwise they cannot continue”, putting into question a major tenet of RIS 2.

Time will tell how this one will play out, but one thing is for sure – political and economic need are pushing transport infrastructure right to the top of the government’s agenda. The next year might not pan out exactly as we might have predicted even just a couple of months ago, but it’s looking likely that there will be many more winners than losers…and that is not just within the infrastructure sector.

Highways UK, which returns to the NEC Birmingham on 4/5 November, promises to be a great opportunity to take stock of progress on Boris’ promised transport revolution. Put the date in your diary now!

Highways UK in 2019 continued its upwards growth attracting nearly 6000 visitors and 200 exhibitors. It is firmly established as the major event for the UK’s road infrastructure sector and has business opportunity from change as its DNA. It brings together those responsible for the planning, designing, building, maintaining, operating and future-proofing of the UK’s road network.

It offers a high-level multi-stream conference combined with a major industry exhibition. Core to its success is engaging with the major road owners, roads authorities and the entire supply chain. It sets out to bring together at scale the influencers and decision makers across the sector and puts them in a neutral environment to network, learn and do business.