Network Rail aims to cut delays and add services in £47bn five-year plan

13 February 2018, 16:37

Network Rail is planning to deliver a 15% reduction in delayed trains under a £47bn five-year plan - but has made no fresh promises of major projects.

The bulk of its 2019-24 budget will be spent on maintenance and day-to-day operations to try to improve performance on the existing railway.

By 2021, it aims to increase the number of services by 350,000 per year or nearly 1,000 a day.

It is planning a 25% increase in funding "to reduce delays and improve infrastructure reliability".

The strategy includes £10bn for "enhancements" or rail upgrades, most of which will be projects deferred from the 2014-19 plan.

That strategy was described as the biggest investment in railways since the Victorian era - but many initiatives were shelved or delayed.

Key works in the new five-year plan are likely to include the TransPennine line from Leeds to Manchester, currently awaiting Government sign-off.

Network Rail said the plan would drive economic growth, jobs and housing "by delivering a better railway for the millions of people who rely on it".

It is subject to review by the Office of Rail and Road ahead of a final determination in the autumn.

Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne said it was "an ambitious, but realistic plan that is not without challenge".

Passenger numbers have doubled in the last 20 years and are set to rise by around by 40% by 2040.

Mr Carne said: "Britain's railways have seen a revival over the past decade or so and we have been working flat-out over the last five years to build new stations and new infrastructure to enable thousands of more services to come on stream to soak up that demand.

"For the next five years we need to relentlessly focus on making our railway more reliable while also ushering in new digital technology that with help to transform our railway in the years ahead."

Publicly-owned Network Rail owns and operates the railway infrastructure in England, Wales and Scotland.