Maintaining a Vital Asset
The Scottish trunk road network is estimated to have a construction value of £20bn (April 2015 valuation). Its value to Scotland’s economy and way of life is many times greater. The operation and maintenance of this vital national asset must support the country by delivering the required service to road users and by using public money wisely.
Scotland’s trunk road network includes around 3,400 route kilometres of motorways and trunk roads and 1,874 bridges, including major estuarial crossings of strategic importance. It carries over 35% of all traffic and over 60% of all Heavy Goods Vehicles, but accounts for only 6% of the total Scottish road network.
Transport Scotland is the national transport agency responsible for operating and maintaining the trunk road network on behalf of Scottish Ministers.
Applying Best Practice – Asset Management
Transport Scotland, like all public bodies, is being placed under increasing scrutiny in the way that it meets road user expectations, justifies investment and demonstrates that best use is being made of resources. This has been fully recognised and Transport Scotland has been embedding asset management in its business in accordance with best practice. This however does not mean we can stand still, instead the organisation will be continually challenging and improving practices and actively engaging in national and international best practice working groups.
Listening to You
The majority of us, in one form or another, are road users. As road users we expect safe and reliable journeys. These are not unreasonable expectations.
We welcome this, and in response we are actively engaging with road users and other interested parties to understand their views about the service they expect from the trunk road network. This relates to road condition, winter maintenance, journey reliability or lighting provision, to name but a few. We undertake annual surveys, with a representative cross section of road users, to identify trunk road issues that are important to them and the service they expect or desire. The findings are used to inform our activities and performance measures.
Making Best Use of Resources
A key function of the RAMP is to set out what we do to deliver the best possible service with the resources available. Our lifecycle plans cover a wide range of activities, from inspections, to routine and cyclic maintenance, to structural maintenance and more substantial refurbishments and improvements.
The lifecycle activities are set out in this RAMP for the main asset types. A number of these reflect recognised good practice (for example, inspection and routine maintenance intervals) and are designed to manage risk levels. Other activities, such as structural maintenance of the carriageway, are periodic in nature and dependent on a wide range of criteria. To estimate these maintenance needs, computerised models have been developed that reflect how our assets behave and deteriorate over time, thereby informing financial planning and investment decisions.
Setting out the lifecycle plans in this manner provides full visibility of the activities required to deliver a safe and reliable road network. It also enables us, and other interested parties, to openly assess and challenge current practices, helping to identify areas where improvements and efficiencies can be made.
The RAMP sets out financial plans over a 10-year period required to deliver the lifecycle activities. The financial plans provide an indication of the level of expenditure that would be required to provide our desired level of service. However it is fully recognised that, especially at this time, there are considerable strains on public finances which impact on these financial plans. As a result of this we have developed maintenance strategies for our major asset types in order to make best use of available funds and ensure that the trunk road network remains safe and fit for purpose.
Updating the RAMP
Considerable advances have been made in our asset management practices since the publication of the first Road Asset Management Plan (RAMP) in 2007. Transport Scotland is committed to continually improving asset management practices and these will be reflected in future periodic updates of the RAMP.