When I became Secretary of State for Transport last September, one thing that struck me early on was the difference in the way that we plan and invest in our railways compared with our roads. On our railways, we draw up plans over five year periods, supported by a secure, guaranteed long term funding stream. And it is thanks to this approach that we were able to announce last summer the biggest modernisation programme for our railways since the Victorian era.
The contrast with roads, where nothing like that existed, was stark. The result has been an uncertain, tap-on-tap-off approach to how we build and maintain our road network. Indeed, the absence of an investment strategy enabled Labour to shelve more than 100 schemes on coming into Government. And it is no doubt a significant part of the explanation as to why on their watch, between 2000 and 2007, Britain was the lowest investor in infrastructure of all OECD countries.
Today we are announcing a package of reforms that will change all that. From 2015, England 's roads will benefit from long term funding certainty and a five year investment strategy. The Highways Agency, the body responsible for our motorways and trunk roads, will be turned into a publicly owned company and freed from red tape. And all of these changes will be backed by law.