The Office of Rail and Road’s 2021-22 Benchmarking National Highways report, published today, outlines the regional differences in performance across National Highways’ motorways and major A roads in England. The latest edition reviews the second year of Road Period 2 (RP2) which spans from 2020-21 to 2024-25.
As COVID-19 lockdown restrictions eased, traffic levels on England’s Strategic Road Network (SRN) increased which affected the level of delays experienced by road users. The North West had the largest increase in average delay, rising from 6.0 seconds to 8.8 seconds per vehicle mile. The South West experienced the smallest rise, with an increase from 6.2 seconds to 7.2 seconds. The national average traffic delay in 2019-20 was nine seconds per vehicle mile.
The North West also had the highest level of delays due to roadworks in 2021-22, with the figure more than doubling from 1.1 minutes per hour travelled to 2.4 minutes per hour travelled. The South East (1.3 to 1.1) and South West (0.9 to 0.7) regions both experienced small decreases in roadworks related delays.
However, the North West improved on the percentage of overnight road closures that are accurately notified. It scored 66.7%, up from 58.3% last year, which was the fourth best of the regions.
Most of National Highways’ regions continued to perform at or above the national-level target of 95% for the condition of road surfaces (known as ‘pavement condition’). The North West region recorded a score of 96.4% – the joint second highest score for 2021-22.
Overall, the North West performed above the national level target in most performance areas in 2021-22. The region recorded a user satisfaction score of 70.1% – the third highest of the National Highways six regions.
Feras Alshaker, Director of Highways at ORR, said:
“In 2021-22, National Highways’ regions were dealt the challenge of maintaining performance in the face of rising traffic levels following the COVID-19 pandemic. As traffic levels recovered, delays also increased. Nevertheless, we have seen examples of where the regions have improved performance.
“Our report is an important resource that we expect National Highways to use to explore and understand regional variations in performance and, where practicable, to act on lessons learned to improve performance across the strategic road network. This will, ultimately, lead to better outcomes for road users, the communities it serves, as well as for the environment and the taxpayer.”