back to article Highways England primes market for £2bn tech spend as part of massive investment in crumbling roads network

The government-owned company responsible for England's motorways has launched two streams of tendering covering nearly £2bn in spending on IT and other digital technologies. Split into two tranches, the framework agreements launched this week are prior information for the market only, with procurement set to begin in earnest …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    £2bn would fix a lot of roads.

    Just get something like Mayrise or Pitney Bowes highways asset mangement software to manage all the assets and spend the rest on fixing stuff...

    1. Julz Silver badge

      Where would you put the asset tags?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Asset tags are pretty much already on everything - lights, bridges. Most are printed.

        Some lights have tech in to power down for when they need fixing - and you can do that via API or physically there. Not a +1 on Yotta Mayrise but it's pretty comprehensive. and they are already doing it... ( Horizons already manages over 100,000km of highway assets in the UK. It provides strategic decision support about maintenance and investment options relating to; roads and carriageways, car parks, footways, gullies and drains, signs, street furniture and more. )

        EDIT: and no - don't work for them but have been an end user

        1. Julz Silver badge

          Missed the joke icon. I had images of big bar codes running across the carriageways...

          1. lglethal Silver badge

            Now you know the real purpose of Zebra crossings! You didnt think it was to tell people where to cross the road, did you?

            1. Jason Bloomberg

              I have been trying to decode those white lines which run down the centre of our roads for ages. As best as I can tell it's some kind of Morse Code.

              1. KBeee Bronze badge

                In a strange way they are a kind of code. The closer the white lines are together, the more hazardous the road is considered to be.

      2. tip pc Silver badge

        Plenty of tags on our local road & rail infrastructure, some call it graffiti.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      £2bn would fix a lot of roads.

      It could also make a lot of Boris Johnson's and Dominic Cummings' mates rich.

      1. Bowlers

        Re: £2bn would fix a lot of roads.

        Grump on: Bet the £2bn won't end the 50+ year wait for the A628 Mottram-Hollingworth-Tintwistle bypass. Grump still on:

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Highways England == WTF?

    They've just funded whole sections of the A31 to be tarred and chipped. A lot of it was put over tarmac that was laid less then 4 years ago and didn't need any attention.

    Yet at the end of the A31 in Guildford (just before it crosses the Railway) there is a section of road that is more like a motocross track than a highway.

    Numpties the lot of them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Highways England == WTF?

      I think the key words are "at the end of the A31" ... you'll probably find that that piece of road is the responsibility of Guildford's districty council so is maintained by a completely unconnected budget.

    2. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Highways England == WTF?

      Isn't it supposed to be the Hog's Back and not a Pig's Ear?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Highways England == WTF?

        The name "Hogs Back" to me refers to the excellent brewery that is located on the north side of the ridge in the village of Tongham.

        About a mile as the drunken crow flies from where I'm writing this from. OTT to the rescue!.

        1. Woodnag Silver badge

          Re: Highways England == WTF?

          Better off nipping down to the Hop Blossom in Farnham for the Fullers.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Highways England == WTF?

          Pint of tea please, to wash down that hazy Hogg of course.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Highways England == WTF?

      > Yet at the end of the A31

      The A31 doesn’t end at Guildford, carries on all the way to Portsmouth, through that tunnel they built under hind head.

    4. hoola Silver badge

      Re: Highways England == WTF?

      Ah, surveys for more Smart Motorway death traps.

      Yes the do need some IT but £2 billion appears a little excessive. You could fix an awful lot of stuff with that amount of cash to splurge.

      Here is an idea, how about some "blue sky thinking" (or is that buzzword out of fashion now?).

      What about actually building some proper cycle lanes that are separated from traffic that actually go somewhere useful. What the hell is the point of a painted white line along dual the edge carriageways like the A43 with trucks passing at 55.

      Or getting rid of All Lane Running so that when you break down you are not stuck in a live traffic. Having been stuck on the M1 with a blowout and then having to sit on the embankment just waiting for the crash to happen it is really scary. When that was trailed on the M42 the refuges were quite close, maybe 500m, in all the improvements since they are 1 mile apart and worse, even after all the reports as to how dangerous it is, they are not reducing this on the ones being built now.

      Or another one (Local Authority) that spent a fortune resurfacing pavement, putting new kerbs and so on then lots of white lines. The cycle route just stops and every road or access has a 6" high kerb as some genius in planning or construction did not think that bike cannot easily go up and down a 6" drop.

      Rant over for they day, get another coffee!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Epic Spaffage

    Spaffing money on pointless tech and services while the roads literally crumble, Sounds like President Cummings had a hand in this.

  4. Jan 0 Silver badge

    Sign o' the times?

    Inflation: £2,000,000,000 would have been enough to build over 4,000 miles of Motorway back in the '50s!


    If we could just post money back in time, we could have an excellent road system now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sign o' the times?

      You can post money back in time (sort of) - it's called government borrowing.

  5. myhandler

    More "Smart" motorways ?

    Miles and miles of 50 mph average speed limits, that take months to complete and all you get are fancier road warning signs.

    And no hard shoulder for added extra accidents, so they can show off the new signage.

    1. Barking mad

      Anyone looked up what a smart motorway is?

      Interesting factoid - when you look up what a smart highway is, they claim that traffic moves faster after completing the work than it did 2 years beforehand. But wait, they had average speed checks for more than 2 years...

      We regularly drive from Heathrow to the Lakes and for nearly a year there was a small digger sitting beside one stretch of the northbound M6 and I am sure it did not move. I work in the movie industry, I know set dressing when I see it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Anyone looked up what a smart motorway is?

        If you look at the POPEs for any completed scheme, it is compared against the forecast outcomes during planning stage, and then "Do Minimum" (i.e. any work that would have had to have happened anyway) is subtracted. Essentially a nice big evaluation of "Did Highways England achieve what they said they would" and as can be seen by reading any of them, they certainly aren't biased in favour of Highways England.

        At no point does anyone compare traffic speed post construction against traffic speed during construction and claim it as a success of benefit. ORR and Transport Focus tend to get a bit pissed off if you do things like that.

    2. Barking mad

      And those variable speed limits... they are either much lower than they need to be or aspirational.

    3. Warm Braw Silver badge

      And no hard shoulder for added extra accidents

      Indeed. Still, the more people that die, the greater the likelihood that drivers acquire herd immunity to impact...

  6. Tubz

    £27B, so thats £1B for Scotland, £250M for Wales & N.I, 50p for The North Of England and all the rest spent on the South, quangos, consultants and other fat cats that have greasy connections to friends in Government, Parliament and the Civil Servants!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      1) It's Highways England, not Scotland or Wales. Roads are devolved.

      2) A lot of new schemes starting work in North and Midlands - worth a look.

    2. katrinab Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      No, it is £26bn for a PR contract for that company owned by Cummings and Gove, and £1bn to a hedge fund or other completely inappropriate company for two bags of tarmac that don’t meet highways specifications and have to be binned.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Onshore please

    I hope there is stipulation that at least 90% of the money stays onshore.

    Don’t mind foreign firms running things so long as majority of staff and any profits are onshore so most of that tax money trickles through the uk economy.

  8. Snowy Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Wire up the roads

    So they can then do road pricing?

    1. hoola Silver badge

      Re: Wire up the roads

      More than likely.

      Where the "improvements" to the M4 are going in west of the M25 the signs proclaim "Upgrading to digital motorway".

      I am sure a lot of the average speed stuff is simply refining the technology for road pricing.

    2. katrinab Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Wire up the roads

      That was already done when Bliar was at the helm.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Government IT.

    We already know where this ends.

  10. codejunky Silver badge


    Surely it would be better to widen roads, reduce bottlenecks and make cycle paths off the road so both can be happier? I know there is an extremist wet dream of people moving back to the horse and cart but most people want to get from A to B at a reasonable pace and safely

  11. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    But... but...

    The technology will be so good they'll be able to tell you how many potholes you crashed through on your 2 mile journey.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But... but...

      Don't tend to get many potholes on Strategic Roads Network, crashing into one at 70 mph is a bit too deathy...

  12. PeterM42

    How about.......

    ....they fix a few potholes first?

    1. quxinot Silver badge

      Re: How about.......

      I suspect they could fill potholes in with said money, and accomplish more than they're planning on doing.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Highways Agency IT - the original IT Crowd

    Worked as an IT contractor for HA back in the 90's

    I was sure the IT Crowd was based on some of these regional IT departments antics.


    Testing NT4 Group Policies on staff who pissed them off the previous day

    Setting the hell desk phone to fax machine as the team went to watch FIFA World Cup match down the pub

    Project Managers who didn't care for anyone else except their little project and wanted all the resources IT could provide.

    Just saying - it was fun at the time but looking back OMG how they got away with murder.


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