Delayed report gives smart motorway negative benefit cost ratio

07/09/2021
Chris Ames

National Highways has been forced to release two key reports on smart motorways following a Freedom of Information request from Highways.

These include a five-year post opening project evaluation that showed that a scheme on the M1 is on track to have negative journey time benefits of nearly a quarter of a billion pounds over 60 years rather than forecast benefits of nearly £1bn.

Overall, the scheme is forecast to have a benefit cost ratio of minus 0.8, compared with a forecast of 1.4, meaning that the scheme is making things worse in terms of monetised benefits while in operation.

In the foreword to the report on the junctions 10 and 13 dynamic hard shoulder scheme, which opened in December 2012, Elliot Shaw, the government owned company’s executive director, strategy and planning wrote: ‘The evaluation findings indicate further action is required over the scheme’s 60-year lifecycle for it to meet its appraised value for money objectives.’

The report states: 'To evaluate the monetary impact, we compare the observed journey times against a forecast of the savings then assume the ratio is indicative of the long-term trend to derive the 60-year outturn monetised benefits. Applying this to the observed journey time impacts in the first five years indicates that if the scheme remained on this trajectory the monetised impact on journey times would be -£225m.’

The report notes that the forecast journey time benefits for the scheme over 60 years were £996m and that it cost £489m to deliver, compared with a forecast of £606m, due to lower construction costs than forecast.

It adds that: ‘The appraisal had forecast that the scheme would deliver greater benefits for journey times over the 60-year assessment period for a larger number of road users and that in the first five years of the road being opened to road users, the evaluation had not observed the level of benefit in line with the assumptions within the business case.’

The report states: 'The evaluation observed little change in journey times for road users travelling northbound in the pm peak. For all other time periods, in both directions journey times have increased as shown in Figure 9.'

The Department for Transport also released the conclusions of the Office of Road and Rail analysis of safety statistics for smart motorways.

AA president  Edmund King said: ‘We are pleased that this further analysis of the performance of smart motorways has been made public.

‘We believe that controlled motorways with a hard-shoulder are the safest option and for other stretches, installing more emergency laybys on the existing network, in our view, will help improve both safety and driver confidence.

‘Analysis shows that the forecast benefits have not been realised in some places, resulting in slower journey times, lower speeds and lower levels of economic benefit compared to assumptions.’

The report was one of two that came to light following an FOI request from Highways to what was then Highways England .

As Highways has reported, transport minister Baroness Vere told the Transport Select Committee in June that she would supply the reports in approximately two weeks but had since blocked their publication.

As part of the smart motorway stocktake in 2020, transport secretary Grant Shapps ordered all dynamic hard shoulder smart motorway schemes to be converted all lane running, describing the schemes as 'confusing'.     

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

INSIDE:

Highways Awards 2021 finalists revealed

Harris leads National Highways into new era

View the latest issue


Highways jobs

Street Works Co-ordinator

£21,153 - £23,791
Do you want to make a difference to how Street Works are managed within Lincolnshire? Lincolnshire
Recruiter: Lincolnshire County Council

Principal Transport Planning Officer

£44,863 - £46,845. In addition, re-location expenses may also be paid.
This is an exciting opportunity to join the Strategic Transport Planning Team at Gloucestershire County Council (GCC). Gloucester, Gloucestershire
Recruiter: Gloucestershire County Council

Group Engineer - Highways Network Management

£40,876 - £45,859 Plus market rate supplement of £3,000, reviewed annually
We are looking for a Group Engineer who will support the recovery from the pandemic. Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Group Engineer - Safety Design

£40,876 - £45,859 Plus market rate supplement of £3,000, reviewed annually
We are looking for an experienced engineer to join our Highways Safety Design team. Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Highways Asset Management Engineer

£30,451 - £32,234 per annum
The post holder will... Telford, Shropshire
Recruiter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Senior Traffic Engineer

£32,910 - £35,745 per annum
This is an exciting opportunity to join Telford & Wrekin Council’s Highway Network Management Team to... Telford, Shropshire
Recruiter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Traffic Signals Engineer

£25,991 - £35,745
An exciting opportunity has arisen for a Technician/Engineer to join the Traffic Signals Systems & Operations (TSSO) team as a Career Grade Engineer. Lincoln, Lincolnshire
Recruiter: Lincolnshire County Council

Transport and Procurement Manager

£48,194 - £52,980 per annum
Are you a Transport Manager looking for a role that is a break from the norm? Andover, Hampshire
Recruiter: Test Valley Borough Council

Traffic Engineers (Highway Design and Asset Management)

£32,910 – £35,745 per annum - fixed term for 5 years
We are looking for highly motivated and enthusiastic people to join our Traffic Engineering team. Halifax, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council

Street Lighting Design Engineer

£18,812 - £35,745
This is an exciting opportunity for you to join Lincolnshire County Council's Street Lighting Team as a Street Lighting Design Engineer. Lincoln, Lincolnshire
Recruiter: Lincolnshire County Council

Project Engineers

£36,922 per annum (Grade H-I)
West Berkshire Council are looking for innovative, enthusiastic and focused Project Engineers. Newbury, Berkshire
Recruiter: West Berkshire Council

Charge Hand (Highways)

£24,943 to £27,067 per annum
We are looking for motivated individuals who are willing to contribute to the team’s growth and success. York, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: City of York Council

Principal Highways Drainage Engineer

£32,910 - £35,745 per annum
Do you want to take a leading role maintaining a large network of assets? Telford, Shropshire
Recruiter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Cleaner Streets and Waste Contract Manager - Communities

£48,809 - £49,794 per annum
Responsible for managing the street cleansing, household waste collections services and community recycling centres Bridgend (Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr)
Recruiter: Bridgend County Borough Council

Senior Engineer Flood & Drainage

£40,876 - £45,859
We make a difference to the environment we live in. Come and help us manage our blue infrastructure. Bracknell, Berkshire
Recruiter: Bracknell Forest Borough Council

Business Support Officer – Passenger Transport

£20,092 - £21,748
You will assist the wider team in ensuring the office functions are delivered in a timely and accurate manner. Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Senior Engineer

£31,339 to £35,754 per annum
We are looking for enthusiastic and motivated individuals who are willing to contribute to the teams growth and success. York, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: City of York Council

Waste Collection Operative - Loaders / HGV Drivers (Hays Recruitment)

Competitive Salary
Hays are excited to be working in partnership with Chelmsford City Council who are always looking to expand their teams and are looking for... Chelmsford, Essex
Recruiter: Chelmsford City Council

Highways Presents

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Video