Enhancing safety on England's road network

We’ve been working for Highways England for nearly two decades to help put in place all types of technology to make England’s major roads safer and less congested. For the last ten years we’ve been working together on the National Roads Telecommunications Service (NRTS), enabling improvement and efficiency in how information is given to drivers to make their journeys easier.

The technologies you’ll have noticed include emergency telephones, the red-ringed mph speed limit signs that help prevent jams and keep traffic flowing, and journey time estimates for how long it takes to reach the next junction. Even those dreaded words ‘queue after junction’ improve traffic flows. Increased information is all part and parcel of the modern driving experience on England’s road network.

As Highways England rolls out its smart motorways programme by opening up hard shoulders to traffic to enable all lanes to be used in order to cut congestion, the roadside technology and signs are even more important.

Have you thought about what allows these ever advancing communications and digital information systems to work? The answer is the National Roads Telecommunications Service (NRTS) - a fibre optic network of communication and control that Highways England uses to monitor and run the 4,300 miles of English roads under its control.

Connecting the roads with control centres

NRTS was established in 2005 to provide the vital telecommunication interconnectivity between the Regional Control Centres, the National Traffic Operations Centre and the 30,000 roadside assets which enable Highways England to operate, maintain and develop the strategic road network. For the past 12 years the contract services were provided by the GeneSYS consortia and today are delivered by telent following a recent competitive tender.

Since appointment in 2009 we have supported Highways England through the provision of specialist technical assurance to ensure that the operation, maintenance and development of the NRTS service is safe, fit for purpose and achieving value for money.

In collaboration with our client and NRTS contractor, we are working to ensure the network remains resilient and scalable to support emerging technologies.

Miles of fibre and copper networks plus 145 transmission stations used by NRTS
6,000 6,000
Miles of road managed and operated by Highways England
4,300 4,300
Number of road-side devices currently employed including CCTV cameras, message signs, emergency roadside phones and smart motorway equipment
30,000 30,000
Our technical assurance services ultimately enable Highways England to operate their strategic road network efficiently and effectively. We provide a diverse and specialist service provision in support of this critical telecommunication network.
Jill Slevin, NRTS Project Manager

The network

We have created a small but highly effective one-stop-shop team of specialists to help Highways England get the most from its investment and ensure value for money from the network - this team includes consultants and engineers from us at WSP, BAE Systems, Capita, KPMG and JOROC. Collaboratively, we provide ‘specialist assurance services’ including Technical, Contract, Design Review and Contract Procurement. All areas are balanced with critical analysis through an inclusive, integrated team focused on providing a continually improving service.

"We are seen as a fount of specialist knowledge and ability that our client can rely on and have a skill set that we are helping to develop within Highways England itself.” Jill says. “We’ve all been involved in the project for the long-term and so all hold a personal stake in NRTS. We’re invested in it as much as our client is and we want to go the extra mile to make sure it develops and operates effectively."

"Highways England appreciate that we care for them, and in return they care for us."