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National Highways

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National Highways
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The Highways England logo and strapline
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Highways England Traffic Officers  • Office for Rail and Road  • Transport Focus  • Department for Transport • POPE Reports

National Highways (known as Highways England before 19 August 2021) is the agency responsible for the operation of England's trunk roads network, which includes most of the country's motorways, as well as the most major A-class roads, by using the same areas allocated by the Highways Agency. Under its new structure it is equivalent to Network Rail, the publicly owned company tasked with maintaining and improving the Rail Network and sits under the Department for Transport.

It has no responsibilities for the Principal road network, which are the responsibility of the local Highway Authority. It also has no authority over roads outside of England except for the M48 Wye Bridge and the M4 Second Severn Crossing in Wales, which came into public ownership in 2018. Its counterparts are Transport Scotland, Welsh Government and DfI Roads.

It maintains the Strategic Road Network, also known as the Trunk Road Network, which includes most motorways and the most important A-Roads in the country. Their network totals around 4,300 miles of roads, ranging from the extremely busy M25 near Heathrow, to roads not much more than winding B-roads in places, like the A49 and A64.

Highways England replaced the Highways Agency on 1 April 2015.

Aims and Objectives

National Highways has three key aims that it wishes to achieve. These are:

  • Provide a free flowing network where routine delays are infrequent and journeys are reliable,
  • Maintain a safe and serviceable network where no-one should be harmed when travelling or working,
  • Have an accessible and integrated network so people are free to choose their mode of transport and can move safely across and alongside our roads.

It also aims to help and stimulate economic growth by providing a modern and reliable network that not only copes with current development but allows for more and that their work provides and long term and sustainable benefit to the environment. The last part was a big objective of A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England and was carried from the Highways Agency to continue its work to improve and protect the environment.

These aims are monitored by the companies two regulatory bodies.


National Highways is tasked with implementing major road improvements on top of maintaining its current network. In the past, either when under direct control of the Department for Transport, or under the Highways Agency, projects and funding was set centrally and undertaken by various bodies. As the funding was set centrally and the projects were normally of high worth, it was easy to remove projects from the program and save some money if the Treasury need to reduce its spending.

Under its new structure, the funding is set by government but is allocated 5 years in advanced, meaning that Highways England has security of funding and can progress with schemes knowing that the funding will be there to build the scheme. This was all part of the Road Investment Strategy, which was designed to improve the sector by securing funding for the projects in advanced in 5 years periods, initially referred to as Road Periods. The first round of scheme was decided by the DfT and the Highways Agency, using their Route Based Strategies. Future funding will be allocated for the next period in advanced of when it is due to start and will allow Highways England to plan improvements for the next period in advanced of it starting. It will also be able to choose the schemes that it will progress using Route Based Strategies, much like the Highways Agency.


The Office and Rail and Road is the new regulator of Highways England

National Highways has two bodies tasked with monitoring its performance and ensuring that it meets its objectives in terms of maintaining and improving its network, as well as satisfying its users.

Office for Rail and Road

The Office for Rail and Road (ORR), formerly the Office for Rail Regulation, is the regulatory body that oversees and enforces Highways England's performance and efficiency, ensuring that it is meeting its key objectives and providing value for Tax Payers.

The Office for Rail Regulation became the Office for Rail and Road in April 2015 as part of the same legislation that the Highways Agency was converted into Highways England under the Infrastructure Act 2015.

Transport Focus

Transport Focus, like the ORR and Highways England, came into existence under the Infrastructure Act (2015) and was formerly known as Passenger Focus, the rail passenger watchdog. Under its new remit, Transport Focus campaigns and influences the decisions of Highways England, as well as Network Rail, in improving the road and rail networks and making sure that users of both forms of transport receive a good level of service. It also makes sure that the users are receiving the level of service as set out by the ORR and works with the ORR to take action to rectify any issues while remaining independent from it.


Having taken over from the Highways Agency, National Highways continue to divide England into fourteen areas, each with its own team. Each area is tasked with maintaining the roads within it and identifying weaknesses in the network that need rectifying or improving.

This is the current list of National Highways areas.

HA Area Area Name Roads Include
1 Corn­wall & Devon A30, A38
2 Som­er­set, Avon, Wilt­shire & Gloucestershire M4, M5, M32, M48, M49, A4, A30, A36, A40, A46, A303
3 Hamp­shire, Berk­shire, Sur­rey, Oxford­shire, Dorset & Wiltshire M3, M4, M27, M271, A3, A3(M), A27, A31, A34, A303, A308(M), A404, A404(M)
4 Kent, Sur­rey, East Sus­sex & West Sussex M2, M20, M23, A2, A20, A21, A22, A23, A26, A27, A259, A2070
5 M25, link roads to GLA Bound­ary, Berkshire, Buck­ing­hamshire, Hert­ford­shire, Essex, Kent & Sur­rey (M25 Area) M1, M3, M4, M11, M20, M23, M25, M26, M40, A1, A1(M), A2, A3, A13, A20, A23, A30, A40, A316, A406, A1079, A3113
6 Essex, Cam­bridgeshire, Suf­folk & Norfolk M11, A1, A11, A12, A14, A47, A120, A1023
7 Leices­ter­shire, Northamp­ton­shire, Derbyshire, Not­ting­hamshire, Lin­colnshire, part of Warwick­shire, Rut­land & part of Oxfordshire M1, M6, M45, M69, A1, A5, A6 A14, A38, A42, A43, A45, A46, A52, A453, A516, A5111
8 Cam­bridgeshire, Bed­ford­shire, Hert­ford­shire & part of Suffolk M1, M11, A1, A1(M), A5, A11, A14, A414, A421, A428
9 West Mid­lands, Here­ford, Worces­ter­shire, Shrop­shire, War­wick­shire & Staffordshire M5, M6, M40, M42, M50, M54, A5, A34, A38, A38(M), A40, A41, A45, A46, A49, A50 A423, A435, A446, A449, A452, A458, A483, A500, A4097, A5127, A5148,
10 Cheshire, Mersey­side, Greater Man­ches­ter & part of Lancashire M6, M53, M56, M57, M58, M60, M61, M62, M65, M66, M67, A41, A55, A56, A59, A483, A494, A550, A556, A580, A627(M), A663, A5036, A5103, A5117
No Area 11
12 York­shire & Hum­ber­side Ports Motorways M1, M18, M62, M180, M181, M606, M621, A1, A1(M), A61, A63, A64, A160, A162, A180, A616, A628
13 Cum­bria & parts of Lancashire M6, M55, A7, A66, A585, A590, A595
14 Northum­ber­land, Tyne and Wear, Durham & North Yorkshire A1, A1(M), A19, A66, A66(M), A184, A194(M), A696

There are also additional area numbers for roads managed under a PFI contract. Area 5 is also managed under a PFI contract, but it existed as an area before the contract was signed and kept its area number as a result.

DBFO Area Area Name Roads Include Commencement Date
25 A69 Newcastle to Carlisle A69 April 1996
26 A168/A19 Dishforth to Tyne Tunnel A19, A168, A174, A1053 February 1997
27 M1-A1 Link (Lofthouse to Bramham) M1, A1(M), M62 April 1996
28 A50/A564 Stoke tp Derby A6, A50 (formerly A564) July 1996
29 A1(M) Alconbury to Peterborough A1(M), A14(M) April 1996
30 M40 (J1-15) Denham to Warwick M40 January 1996
31 A417/A419 Swindon to Gloucester A417, A419 April 1996
32 A30/A35 Exeter to Bere Regis A30, A35 October 1996
33 A1 Darrington to Dishforth A1(M) March 2003
34 A249 Stockbury (M2) to Sheerness A249 February 2004

Class III Roads

Main Article: National Highways (Class III roads)


Main Article: National Highways (Junctions)

Bridges, Tunnels, and other Crossings

Main Article: National Highways (Crossings)


Michaelwood services Bridge Removal on the M5

This is the moment the 40-year-old Michaelwood Services footbridge was consigned to history in a massive overnight operation.

Highways England closed the M5 overnight between Junction 13 and Junction 14 to enable the dismantling and removal of the well-used and well-worn motorway structure.

The footbridge spanning the southbound and northbound areas of the services had reached the end of its life and was closed to pedestrians in 2018.

A 70-strong team were involved in the cutting, dismantling and lifting of the bridge, with a 750-tonne crane positioned on the northbound carriageway to lift and lower the 69-tonne footbridge and two 130-foot cranes to manoeuvre the structure for cutting and removal.

The 60-metre bridge may no longer span the M5 but the metal and concrete, including the ramps and pillars, will now be recycled for future use.

Watch video > >

M60 Simister Island June 2020 Consultation Option 2

We are holding a consultation on our plans to improve Simister Island Interchange at junction 18 of the M60. This is the Inner Links option, which is the second of the two options we have developed. This would involve building two new bridges over the M66 within the roundabout. We’d also build a new free-flow link from the M60 eastbound to the M66 northbound, and replace the existing single-lane from the M60 northbound to westbound with two lanes. We’d need to widen the M60 eastbound and M66 southbound slip roads if we select this option, as well as widening Hills Lane bridge just north of the project.

Watch video > >

M60 Simister Island June 2020 Consultation Option 1

We are holding a consultation on our plans to improve Simister Island Interchange at junction 18 of the M60. This is the Northern Loop option, which is the first of the two options we have developed. For this option we’d build a new loop structure to provide a free-flow link from the M60 eastbound to the M60 southbound. We’d also build a wider free-flow link from the M60 northbound to the M60 westbound, and widen the M66 southbound to 4 lanes through the junction.

Watch video > >

A585 Windy Harbour to Skippool flythrough

A fly through video of the A585 Windy Harbour to Skippool proposals.

Watch video > >

A1 Birtley to Coal House Flythrough

2018 flythrough video showing the plans for the A1 Birtley to Coal House project.

Watch video > >

M42 Junction 6 Improvement Flythrough

Fly though video of the proposed M42 junction 6 Scheme.

Watch video > >


National Highways
A1 • A1(M) • A2 • A3 • A3(M) • A4 • A5 • A6 • A11 • A12 • A13 • A14 • A14(M) (Alconbury - Little Stukeley) • A14(M) (Expressway) • Sandbox • A19 • A20 • A21 • A23 • A24 • A26 • A27 • A30 • A30/history • A31 • A34 • A35 • A36 • A38 • A40 • A41 • A42 • A43 • A45 • A46 • A47 • A49 • A50 • A52 • A55 • A56 • A57 • A61 • A63 • A64 • A66 • A66(M) • A69 • A74(M) • A120 • A138 • A160 • A162 • A168 • A168(M) • A174 • A180 • A184 • A194(M) • A195(M) • A249 • A259 • A272 • A282 • A292 • A303 • A308(M) • A316 • A404 • A404(M) • A414 • A417 • A419 • A421 • A423 • A428 • A446 • A449 • A452 • A453 • A458 • A483 • A494 • A500 • A550 • A556 • A585 • A590 • A595 • A604(M) • A616 • A627(M) • A628 • A663 • A666(M) • A696 • A1033 • A1053 • A1089 • A2070 • A2300 • A3113 • A4123 • A4510 • A5036 • A5103 • A5111 • A5117 • A5148 • Cotswold Scarp Scenic Route • E05 • E13 • E15 • E18 • E20 • E22 • E24 • E30 • E32 • East Kent Country Tour • Herefordshire Cider Route • High Weald Country Tour • M1 • M2 • M3 • M4 • M4/Airport Spur • M5 • M6 • M11 • M18 • M20 • M23 • M25 • T5 Spur • M26 • M27 • M32 • M40 • M42 • M45 • M48 • M49 • M50 • M53 • M54 • M55 • M56 • M57 • M58 • M60 • M61 • M62 • M65 • M66 • M67 • M69 • M180 • M181 • M271 • M275 • M602 • M606 • M621 • Oxford Ring Road • Ringway 4 • Romney Marsh and Rye Country Tour • Walton Summit Motorway
Related Pictures
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01 2017 080 - Flickr - 34120588525.jpg20180419-0807 - Boundary between Highways England and Transport for London control, A2 London-bound 51.441084N 0.170781E.jpgHighways England.jpgOffice for Rail and Road logo.jpgTrunk responsibility label on A449, Wolverhampton.jpg
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