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Increasing capacity and other improvements to the A5 in the Midlands
The A5 is a major road running through England and Wales from London to Holyhead via Milton Keynes, Hinckley and Shrewsbury.
Midlands Connect, a Sub-national Transport Body covering the Midlands, describes the A5 as one of the region’s “most important east-west road corridors, connecting businesses with ports, airports and motorways, allowing them to access major UK and international markets.” However, the A5 is made up of a mix of double and single carriageways, which, according to the A5 Partnership, means parts of the road often become congested.
The A5 Partnership, a partnership of 16 local councils and other public bodies, was established in response to local concerns about the performance of the A5 and its future role as a key corridor for the region. The A5 Partnership’s latest strategy, A5 Strategy: Supporting Growth and Movement in the Midlands 2018-2031, was published in November 2018. There was a Westminster Hall debate in February 2018 on upgrading the A5.
Midlands Connect is developing a Strategic Outline Business Case to make the case for investment in the A5, together with possible options for developing this corridor.
Road Investment Strategy (RIS)
The A5 is one of a number of motorways and major A roads in England which make up the Strategic Road Network (SRN). National Highways (formerly known as Highways England) is the government-owned company responsible for operating, maintaining, and enhancing the SRN.
Under the Infrastructure Act 2015, the Government is responsible for setting a road investment strategy (RIS) for National Highways. Each RIS includes the amount of funding the Government has committed to deliver the strategy in the form of a Statement of Funds Available. Funding for each road investment strategy is allocated through five-year periods known as road periods.
National Highways is halfway through the second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2), which runs from 2020-2025. RIS2 contains the Government’s long-term vision for the SRN and includes a pipeline of projects under consideration for RIS3, including improvements to the A5 between Hinckley to Tamworth.
The Department for Transport, in December 2021, outlined the process for the preparation of RIS3, which will run from 1 April 2025 to 31 March 2030. This includes a research phase (2021 and 2022), a decision phase (2023 and 2024) and a mobilisation phase (2024 and 2025).
RIS3: Next steps
In 2022, as part of the current research phase, National Highways are due to publish an SRN Initial Report. This will set out the current state of the network, including priorities for maintenance and enhancement, as well as areas for future development. The DfT then plan to consult on this report in summer/autumn 2022 to inform their draft of RIS3.
There are four organisations with a statutory role in developing RIS3:
- Department for Transport: the government department responsible for setting a RIS and with overall oversight of transport policy.
- National Highways: the government-owned company responsible for both day to-day management and long-term stewardship of the SRN. It publishes a Strategic Business Plan and Delivery Plan setting out how it will deliver a RIS.
- Office of Rail and Road: the independent monitor responsible for assessing the performance of National Highways and advising on the efficiency and deliverability of a RIS.
- Transport Focus: the independent watchdog that represents road users’ interests throughout the process of developing a RIS and more generally.
The DfT has also committed to making use of evidence provided by sub-national transport bodies (Transport for the North; Midlands Connect, England’s Economic Heartland; Transport East; Transport for the South East; Western Gateway; and Peninsula Transport) in this research phase.
An overview of the RIS process can be found at the DfT website on Road investment strategy: post-2020.
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