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Transport minister John Watts today rolled out the next phase of the government's route strategies initiative. Rout...
Transport minister John Watts today rolled out the next phase of the government's route strategies initiative. Route strategies is a potential new way of managing England's major roads.

The approach, first outlined in the Green Paper, Transport - The Way Forward, and trialled in three pilot schemes, will take another step forward when work commences on a number of new projects.

Outlining the developments, Mr Watts, minister for railways, roads and local transport, said:

'The first phase has now been successfully completed and we have gained enough information from this to allow us to go forward to the next stage - devising illustrative strategies.

'We will identify several schemes on important links on the English trunk road network, which will start this year. In addition, Highways Agency officials will be consulting local authorities about the principles of route strategies and how the technique could interface with regional planning procedures.'

The route strategy approach takes a wider view of trunk road management by assessing conditions and facilities along the entire length of individual routes. It gathers together information on a range of factors affecting the quality of the road-user's journey, including ride quality, safety, congestion, journey time reliability, the availability of driver information and rest facilities.

The information can then be used by route managers to identify where investment and improvement is most needed on a route so that they can adopt appropriate solutions and priorities funds in order to get the most out of the existing network on behalf of the road user.

-- The Route Strategies concept was first announced in the Green Paper Transport - the Way Forward published in 1996.

-- Performance indicators would be developed from information collected relating to specific roads and would quantify various aspects of the service being delivered; for example, the indicator for safety could be the accident rate, for congestion the journey time, for the road environment the number of customer complaints, etc.

-- The framework approach being developed by the Highways Agency allows the various performance indicators to be compared together along the length of a route. this gives a very clear graphical guide to the overall performance and hence the level of service being provided, and should prove a valuable tool for the route manager and those deciding investment priorities.

-- Route strategies would not supersede the present statutory processes and public participation in progressing individual road schemes. they could, however, give a much more objective basis for bringing trunk road proposals forward, and possibly interface with regional planning procedures.

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