The Highways Agency will be known as Highways England, as plans progress to turn it into a government-owned company.
Transport Minister John Hayes confirmed the new name of the strategic highways company in Parliament today (8 December 2014).
A Highways Agency spokesperson said: “Highways England will deliver the biggest upgrade to England’s strategic roads in a generation, enabling economic growth across the country.
“The name was a popular suggestion from our staff and signals the change to the way England’s motorways and major A roads are run while maintaining existing awareness.”
The Highways Agency will be replaced with Highways England from April 2015. It will be responsible for delivering over 100 new road schemes between now and the end of next parliament.
The change of name has been revealed after the government released details of a £15 billion Road Investment Strategy – with 84 new road projects outlined – last week. Changes to how major roads are managed took another significant step forward with the second reading of the Infrastructure Bill. The bill provides the legal framework for the government’s £15 billion ‘Road Investment Strategy’.
As well as increasing capacity and transforming the busiest sections of the network, the government is transforming the Highways Agency into a government-owned company; this will mean funding can be allocated on a longer-term basis, saving the taxpayer at least £2.6 billion over the next 10 years.
Transport Minister John Hayes said: “This government is making a transformational £15 billion worth of improvements to our road network between now and 2021. It is only right that the new government-owned company has a name that reflects its new role, as a road operator that delivers a fast, efficient and better service for road users and the country.”
A strategic road network monitor role will be undertaken by the Office of Rail Regulation, who will publish information on the performance of the new Highways England and will have the power to take action for poor performance.
The bill will also see Passenger Focus renamed Transport Focus, to provide road users with a stronger voice in how roads are managed and maintained. It is expected to receive Royal Assent by March 2015.
By Alec Peachey