HS2 and road maintenance

Robyn Quick investigates how funding from the cancelled part of HS2 is being reallocated to road maintenance across the country.

HS2 never seems to be far from the headlines, and it has been a hot topic since its first investigation back in 2009. For those that need a refresher on where we are with the development of the high-speed railway, we’ve got you covered. It was designed with the goal of linking major cities in the Midlands and the North of England to London. Since the project was announced to go ahead in 2012, however, it has been consistently delayed. Eventually in October last year, prime minister Rishi Sunak announced the Manchester to Birmingham stretch of the rail project would be scrapped.

Road maintenance funding

The government said some of those funds will be reallocated to England’s local councils over the next 11 years for road maintenance. They said £8.3 billion of funding will go towards road maintenance across the country, but councils said the cost of repairing local roads will be closer to £14 billion.

The Department for Transport now says local authorities in England will get an extra £150m for road repairs this year, and the same amount for 2024 and 2025. The rest of the funding will be allocated over the next decade. Councils will be held accountable for how they spend the money by being required to publish regular updates on the proposed works and they could see future money withheld if they fail to do so.

The aim is to make roads safer and smoother for vehicles. After all, a Royal Automobile Club (RAC) Report on Motoring found that a lack of maintenance on UK roads causes the most frustration for users.

But what has the government actually got planned?

Network North

Network North is the largest project using reallocated funds that is in the works.

One of the announcements the Department of Transport released in December last year is that they plan to upgrade and repair roads across London as part of Network North. £235 million will be poured into the project across an 11-year period, and RAC said this could save motorists up to £440 in repairs caused by poor road conditions. The government is allowing authorities to start spending immediately on vital road repairs, with £7.5 million of this funding set aside for next year.

The government said this project will mean Londoners can enjoy smoother and safer journeys. Transport secretary Mark Harper said: “This government is on the side of drivers and is investing £235 million to improve and repair London’s roads, part of the biggest-ever funding uplift for local road improvements.”

This is the first time in eight years that the government has given funding in London for the roads to be significantly improved.

Outside of London, £3.3 billion has been given to local authorities in the North West, North East and Yorkshire and the Humber to resurface the roads.

RAC head of policy, Simon Williams, said: “Drivers’ biggest bugbear of all is the poor condition of local roads, so the fact the government has found a significant additional pot of revenue should give councils the certainty of funding they need to plan proper long-term road maintenance, something we have been calling for for many years.”

He also said that they hope local authorities will use the money “in the most effective way possible by resurfacing the very worst roads, keeping those in reasonable condition in better states for longer through surface dressing and filling potholes as permanently as possible wherever necessary.”

He added: “This should in time go a considerable way to bringing our roads back to a fit-for-purpose state and saving drivers hundreds of pounds in the process from not having to fork out for frustrating repairs to their vehicles.”

We will have to see if this funding will be a long-term solution to the UK’s road maintenance issue, but some local councils have already criticised the project.

For example, Yorkshire Post reported that Wakefield Council’s cabinet members said the investment falls well short of the amount needed to improve roads, footpaths and cycle lanes.

Event Diary


UKREiiF has quickly become a must-attend in the industry calendar for Government departments and local authorities.

The multi-award-winning UK Construction Week (UKCW), is the UK’s biggest trade event for the built environment that connects the whole supply chain to be the catalyst for growth and positive change in the industry.