The announcement that Lane rental schemes will be rolled out nationwide brings fresh concerns from contractors about mounting costs.
Lane rental schemes, piloted in London and Kent, are intended to incentivise Utility Companies to avoid working on main roads during peak times.
Although the scheme has proven successful in helping to reduce congestion levels on busy roads, many contractors are unhappy with being charged up to £2500 a day for carrying out roadworks on specific routes.
However, the schemes have achieved overwhelmingly positive feedback from respondents who were pleased with the reduction in congestion and looks set to be rolled out nationwide by the end of 2019.
Lane rental is also designed to encourage utility companies to collaborate and work together in order to avoid the same stretch of road being dug up multiple times. A move that has been welcomed by road users and local government alike.
Transport minister Jo Johnson said:
“Drivers often see red when roadworks cause them delays, especially if no one is working on them. Lane rental has seen a massive drop in disruption to drivers as utility companies have changed when and where they carry out work. Now we want millions of motorists around England to get the same benefits.”
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said:
“This is a very welcome announcement. Trials showed that some of the worst congestion caused by planned utility works in London was reduced by half on roads where lane rental was in operation, so rolling this out will extend the benefits nationwide.”
Unsurprisingly, however, the changes have proved unpopular with contractors and Utility Workers who insist that there is no proven link between Lane Rental Schemes and reduced traffic.
Bob Gallienne, chief executive of Street Works UK, said:
“It is disappointing that the government has decided to extend lane rental without any clear evidence that it reduces congestion. We support initiatives to reduce congestion but we believe this approach is a blunt instrument that will make it harder for utility companies to deliver vital infrastructure that powers the economy. The government’s own analysis of the existing lane rental schemes concludes that there is no causal link between lane rental schemes and reduced congestion.
Utility companies are delivering the infrastructure that the UK needs to drive up productivity, create economic growth and deliver on government’s priorities such as broadband and new homes. While we do not believe lane rental is the best solution, we will continue to work closely with the government to ensure their proposals are implemented in a manner that reduces complexity, recognises the need for consistency and is only used in targeted and limited situations.”
Despite protests from Civil Engineers, Utility Workers and various contractors, the lane rental schemes look set to stay.
In response, many in the industry have now turned their attention to how to best to maximise efficiency by getting the job done quickly and safely, starting with faster excavation methods…
Modern excavation methods such as Vacuum Excavation (also known as Suction Excavation) can excavate up to 2m3 per hour and the truck’s inbuilt skip can hold over 8m3 at a time, making it one of the best options for speed and efficiency whilst excavating around buried assets.
In addition to their obvious speed advantage, there are numerous safety benefits to employing the use of a Vac Ex. Vacuum Excavation minimises the risk of service strikes and injury by eliminating the need for mechanical diggers.
Sean Quinn, Managing Director at Pier UK said:
“Vacuum Excavation has grown hugely in popularity over the last few years and with the UK’s largest fleet, we are prepared to meet that demand. We expect that the new lane rental schemes will increase the need for faster excavation techniques across the country in order to keep project costs down. We have a range of excavators in our fleet that are designed with particular environments in mind.
Our Dino 3 range can be spotted at construction sites and roadsides up and down the UK. Next, we introduced the City Sucker compact excavator for areas with limited access such as city centres. Finally, we introduced our newest excavator in March 2018, the Tracked Vac, this Vac Ex is the first of its kind in the UK and is specially designed for off-road work, making haul roads and ground protection mats a thing of the past.”