Ministers have officially started the development of the second Road Investment Strategy (RIS), which will dictate the spending and schemes on England’s motorway network from 2020-2025.
Department for Transport (DfT) officials said: 'While this is just the start of the RIS2 process and not a formal consultation, we welcome views and suggestions on points raised in this document and should you have any questions about the development of RIS2, please contact the Department for Transport at RIS2Team@dft.gsi.gov.uk.'
First unveiled in December 2014, RIS 1 outlined a massive £15.2bn investment plan covering more than 100 major schemes from 2015-2020.
RIS 2 will be supported by 'every single penny' of Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) from 2020, which will be ring-fenced to create a National Roads Fund underpinned by legislation, chancellor George Osborne has said. VED is currently worth roughly £6bn a year.
RIS2 covers the strategic road network from 2020 to 2025
A document outlining the process behind creating RIS 2, Road Investment Strategy post-2020: Planning ahead, states that VED funding 'could also support projects on the local road networks close to the strategic road network, where it can be clearly demonstrated that this would help the strategic road network'.
The document outlines a three-stage process; this includes a research phase, which will gather learning and evidence from six strategic studies:
- Northern Trans-Pennine — the A66 and A69 corridors
- Trans-Pennine tunnel — linking Manchester to Sheffield
- Manchester north-west quadrant — the M60 from junctions 8 to 18
- A1 east of England — from the M25 to Peterborough
- Oxford to Cambridge expressway
- M25 south-west quadrant
The research phase will also include evidence from 18 refreshed route strategies that identify the pressures on and needs of the entire Strategic Road Network.
There will then be a decision-making phase, where the DfT produces the RIS, Highways England produces a Strategic Business Plan and the Office of Rail and Road advises on both.
This is followed by a period of mobilisation, when individual schemes are developed to form the foundation to Highways England’s Delivery Plan, before the second RIS 2 officially begins on 1 April 2020.
As with the first strategy, RIS 2 is expected to comprise of four parts:
- Strategic Vision – a 25-year vision for the strategic road network outlining what the Government wants to achieve with the network
- Investment plan – a multi-year investment plan identifying where improvements will be made to the network
- Performance specification – high-level objectives and performance standards required of Highways England across the network
- Statement of funds available – a statement of public funds available to fund activities and improvements
On devolution to regional transport bodies such as Transport for the North and Midlands Connect or combined authorities, the document states: ‘Government will work with such bodies to develop a long-term vision for transport in their area and we will use their skills and expertise to inform decisions on the RIS.’
In terms of monitoring and performance specification, RIS 2 is expected to build on RIS 1’s eight key outcome areas and challenge the roads operator to ‘strive for ever-better performance’.
Transport Focus, representing the interests of road users, will help make sure that the performance specification covers 'what is most important to the people who use the strategic road network’.
The RIS is a statutory requirement under the provisions of the Infrastructure Act 2015. It sets Government’s requirements of Highways England.
Further information about RIS2 will be published on a dedicated webpage as RIS 2 develops.